DNA testing catches up with illegal logging trade
"You are talking about a wood sample about the size of a thumbnail, and you get the result within 24 to 48 hours,"
- Australian founder of Double Helix, Kevin Hill
A SINGLE splinter of wood can now be traced back, via its DNA fingerprint, to the site of its parent tree on the other side of the world with a powerful new tool designed to stop illegal logging.
A Singapore company, Double Helix Tracking Technologies, is attempting to get its wood tracking method adopted by the federal government, which pledged during the election campaign to crack down on illegal timber imports.
But the ability to precisely identify the source of each log in a batch shipped through a Customs point has the potential to change the global foresty trade.
Each tree, like each human or animal, has a unique genetic signature, but groves of trees are usually related to each other like an extended family containing grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. This allows researchers to cross-reference one log's DNA pattern with an existing database of sensitive logging regions around the world.