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Wood and Fiber Science
Providing strong indicators of species mix and origin

To be of value, traditional wood anatomy and molecular techniques (DNA and isotope analysis) must be able to provide strong indicators of the species mix and origin of the FSC labeled product that can be matched with the claims made through the chain of custody system.

Over the course of 2012, FSC is piloting a testing program to answer the following questions:

  • Can traditional testing techniques (wood and fiber anatomy) and molecular techniques (DNA and isotope testing) validate and authenticate FSC claims on finished products?
  • What are the limitations and opportunities of testing for the different claims allowed under FSC CoC (Credit, Percentage, Transfer systems)? 
  • What are the limitations and opportunities of testing for the different material categories (FSC 100%, FSC Mix material, FSC Recycled material, and controlled wood)? 
  • What are the limitations and opportunities of testing for different product groups (e.g., solid wood, panel products, pulp and paper products, NTFPs)?

Overall, FSC looks to determine if the use wood and fiber science can improve supply chain integrity within the FSC chain of custody system at an affordable cost.

Also starting in 2012, FSC will investigate, through pilot projects, the potential role wood and fiber science could play in FSC CoC standards and policies to deliver supply chain integrity, increase system efficiencies and bring down the costs of certification.

As the costs of genetic methods decrease, could the audit process include the collection of wood samples at the forest and in the factory to allow testing to be conducted to verify FSC claims?

What is the potential to lower costs of certification, simplify chain of custody and increase system integrity?

FSC is working with a number of partners to investigate the feasibility of fiber testing and conduct a series of pilot tests on the use wood science techniques.

Key partners in this work are WWF-Germany, the Forest Products Laboratory of the U.S. Forest Service, and World Resources Institute.