Trees are being chopped down inconsiderably all over the world. Illegal logging has become such a huge problem these days that it needs to be stopped immediately. So, in order to prevent deforestation, environmental advocates are running a project to create a DNA Database of trees, which could help determine if the logs being sold were illegally harvested.
The experimental project is a collaboration between the Norwegian government and the United States Forest Service’s international program. Initially, the project will focus on building a database for the bigleaf maple tree on the west coast. Bigleaf maple trees are mostly used to make guitars, furniture, and veneers, and are quite popular for fetching top dollar. You can easily understand why the poachers are interested in such trees.
To create the database, the World Resources Institute has already recorded several populations of the bigleaf maple, along with the unique characteristics of each population. And, thanks to the volunteers from Adventures Scientists who helped with outdoor data collection.
“The goal with this is that we have enough samples distributed widely enough across this geographic range that we can say we’re pretty sure that this was sample from a national forest in Washington,” said Meaghan Parker-Forney, who is a science officer at the World Resources Institute’s Forest Legality Initiative. “If somebody’s claiming it came from Northern California, we can say no, that’s actually not true.”
Your contribution matters
While the experts are gathered to create the DNA Database, it relies on volunteers and citizen scientists as well. And the best part is, you can also help gather samples for DNA testing. All you have to do is complete an online training course on how to collect samples and pass the test. besides, you’ll have to use an app while you’re in the field to collect samples. The app will ask you a few questions about the specimen you’ve collected. Your contribution could be a vital DNA evidence to prevent any future deforestation.
The Norwegian government and the U.S. Forest Service hope to expand this project to places like Indonesia and Peru, where illegal logging is extremely uncontrolled. The more people volunteer, the richer the database will be.