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PARTNERSHIPS FOR ENHANCED ENGAGEMENT IN RESEARCH (PEER)
Cycle 8 (2019 Deadline)


Development of wood identification system and timber tracking database to support legal trade

PI: Ratih Damayanti (ratih_turmuzi@yahoo.com), Forestry Research Development and Innovation Agency (FORDA) of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Indonesia, in partnership with Bogor Agricultural University
USDA/FS Collaborator: Michael Wiemann, U.S. Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory
Project Dates: February 2020 - January 2021

Project Overview:
 
This project is aimed at developing a wood identification system using a combination of methods to obtain quicker and more accurate results. Tools for improved wood identification accuracy at the species level could also help to differentiate wood origins and estimate when the tree was cut, something that is not currently possible. The technology will be integrated with the Indonesian Forest Product Administration Information System (SIPUHH) online, as part of the Indonesian Timber Legality Assurance System. The methods to be applied involve a combination of computer vision and spectrometry, integrated with an online digital database. The expertise of U.S. partners Dr. Wiemann and Dr. Hermanson from the United States Department of Agriculture will be critical in developing and testing the new system. Dr. Wiemann is a wood anatomist in the Center for Wood Anatomical Research at the Forest Products Laboratory, and Dr. Hermanson has developed a machine vision-based wood species classifier (XyloTron) and worked in other domains of data-driven machine-learning for classification and database creation, management, and mining. This PEER project also aims to establish a wood species database for timber tracking in supporting legal trade. Data from the existing wood species database from the Xylarium Bogoriense could also be integrated with new data from other regions in Indonesia. The digital collection should be useful as a guide in mapping the distribution of wood biodiversity in Indonesia, providing information on carbon stock based on wood density, and listing active compounds identified by spectrometry that could be useful for scientific and commercial purposes.

The proposed project has strong relevance to Indonesian and USAID objectives for enhancing the country’s resilience and capacity for sustainable management of a rapidly depleting resource base of bio-diverse forests. In 2009, the Ministry of Forestry issued created the Timber Legality Assurance System with the goal of improving forestry management governance and eradicating illegal logging and trade. With regard to international trade with the United States, the Lacey Act requires verification of timber origins. Importers must declare the trade and botanical names of the wood species, the country of origin, the size and volume of the wood, and its value. Difficulties are regularly encountered in meeting these requirements, however, due to limited knowledge, technology, and staff capabilities. Because wood identification currently can only be carried out by trained or experienced researchers or officers, personal perception factors can also influence the accuracy of results and the length of time required for identifications. The development of an automated wood identification system and wood species databases would provide significant positive impact on the legal timber verification process. If the system is incorporated into the mandatory Indonesian system, it will support the trade in legal timber and help reduce illegal logging and preserve forests. Moreover, the establishment of an integrated wood database would create a comprehensive information source to improve the management of forest product utilization by various stakeholders, including the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Customs, forest concessions, local governments, other related stakeholders, and communities.

Summary of Recent Activities:

This project began at the start of February 2020, and during the remainder of the first quarter Dr. Damayanti and her team held five coordination meetings and one capacity building event. The coordination meetings included people from outside the Forest Products Research and Development Center (FPRDC), namely an Android development consultant for the improvement of the automatic wood identification system (AIKO-KLHK) and a wood collection database developer. Other participants included staff from the Social Economy and Climate Change Research and Development Center, who will help to assess the current wood legality system in Indonesia and plan for the future implementation and integration of the new identification system. Personnel from the CTECH Edwar Technology Lab also took part to discuss prospects and technical aspects for developing a more objective wood identification system using capacitance volumetric tomography technology. On February 26, 2020, the PEER team organized a capacity building event on the application of Dino-Lite® microscopes for macroscopic and microscopic wood identification, with 30 researchers and research assistants from FPRDC participating.

The team planned to hold the project kick-off meeting on April 2, but due to nationwide restrictions put in place in mid-March in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, this event has been postponed until June 2020 at the earliest. Unfortunately it is impossible to present online, as it involves a hands-on laboratory training component in addition to presentations and discussions.

In addition to the meetings, during the first quarter the PI Dr. Damayanti and her colleagues completed several other initial tasks to get the project running. They selected the 350 wood species to be added to the updated version of their identification system and collected 755 specimens of those species from the Xylarium Bogoriense, including samples from three different geographic locations. They also developed supporting information in both Bahasa Indonesian and English on the 823 wood species included in Version 1 of their identification system plus the 350 new species for Version 2. Finally, the researchers took cross section macroscopic images of 1,413 wood specimens (100 images per specimen).

Subject of course to the coronavirus-related restrictions being lifted, the team plans a coordination meeting involving all project members on May 29, 2020. They will also continue during the coming months on taking cross section macroscopic images of their wood specimens. The project also involves an effort to develop a more objective wood identification system using capacitance volumetric tomography technology (ECVT) that allows identification of wood origins (whether from natural or plantation forests) and determination of cutting time. Towards that end, they will be collecting wood samples from 10 species in natural and plantation forests, developing a prototype and system, preparing samples, and collecting and analyzing data. They will also continue their desk study to assess the current wood legality system in Indonesia and develop recommendations for how their new identification system could be integrated into it.


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