Brazilian Forest Service researchers develop technology to distinguish sawn mahogany from similar species; ITTO-funded project aims to prevent deliberate mislabeling for illegal trading, plans portable device for commercial use
May 15, 2014
(International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO))
– The Forest Products Laboratory of the Brazilian Forest Service (LPF/SFB) is evaluating the use of infrared light to distinguish mahogany from other similar species. The financial support for this research is coming from the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).
Mahogany is an endangered timber species and included in CITES appendix II limiting its trade. Sawn mahogany is simillar in appearance to cedar (Cedrela odorata), andiroba (Carapa guianensis) and curupixá (Micropholis Venulosa) and there is a danger that mahogany could be mislabelled as one of the "look-a-likes‟ and traded illegally.
Using a bench spectrometer (equipment that emits infrared light), the researchers were able to take a visual "thumbprint‟ of mahogany, cedar, andiroba and curupixá based on the unique chemical composition of each species and have verified that it is possible to distinguish the species using this technology.
The LPF will assess whether this methodology, using portable devices in a commmercial environment, can be used to identify mahogany wood with the same reliability as in the laboratory.
Source: Tropical Timber Market Report, International Tropical Timber Organization, Yokohama, Japan.