fwd: tree DNA could help stop illegal logging

Phil jorge2 at earthlink.net
Sat Jul 4 14:55:47 EST 1998


Considering that one must match to a stump that itself establishes to
illegal logging, this doesn't look actionable.

Kirk Johnson wrote:
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Tree DNA could aid fight against illegal loggers
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - From now on criminals and deadbeat
> dads are not the only ones who should worry about DNA testing.
> Research conducted by the Canadian Forest Service will soon enable
> authorities to nab illegal loggers - known in Canada as tree rustlers - by
> comparing the DNA with the lumber being sold with that of the stump left
> behind.
> If it's a match, the tree rustlers could be sent to jail.
> Each tree, like any other living organism, has a unique DNA signature. High
> levels are found in leaves and needles and just under the bark, but
> improvements in technology now make it possible to extract some from
> ever-deeper inside the tree.
> Even an innocent 2-by-4 can now be linked to the stump it originally
> belonged to.
> Analysis of tree DNA could become a powerful weapon in the fight against
> tree rustling. In British Columbia alone, officials estimate that illegal
> logging costs the Canadian province C$10 to C$20 million annually in lost
> revenue. Until now, the only way to stop illegal loggers was to either catch
> them in the act or somehow physically match the wood in their possession to
> the stump left in the forest.
> Jerry Hunter, a Compliance and Enforcement Practices Officer at the British
> Columbia Ministry of Forests, admitted that it was a very poor way of
> fighting crime.
> "We used to have only two or three convictions (for tree rustling) a year,"
> he told Reuters "That increased to seven or eight last year and we should
> have significantly more this year."
> Tired of fighting a losing battle against renegade loggers, who even fell
> trees in conservation areas, British Columbia's government turned to the
> Canadian Forest Service in desperation.
> "The man who called me was spitting mad," recalled Eleanor White, of the
> Pacific Forestry Centre in Victoria. "He asked me if we could use DNA or
> something like that. After I finished laughing, I thought, well, maybe..."
> Scientists had used a similar technique to establish biodiversity in given
> area.
> The technique has not yet been used to identify stolen lumber or to obtain
> criminal convictions. In order for it to become effective, scientists will
> have to get the DNA markers for most commercial species of wood, and each
> species can take several months to analyze. To this day, only yellow and
> Western red cedar have been marked.
> Even so, the possibilities offered by the technique are attracting attention
> from all over North America. The Forest Services of both Alberta and the
> United States are interested and a collaborative effort could soon be set
> up, Canadian forestry officials said.

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