Stable isotope ratio analysis (SIRA) is a scientific method used in verifying the geographic origin of timber. It involves measuring chemical elements in wood samples and comparing them.
The elements found in wood harvested from one location can have statistically different compositions of chemical elements than wood of the same species growing in another location.
Often in combination with other methods, this analysis is being used to help verify the origin of wood in international supply chains. It can also help suppliers of wood products provide proof origin.
Of course, the science is more complicated than it seems. And the degree to which stable isotope ratio analysis can predict the geographic origin of timber varies.
To learn more, here are some references from the leading scientists in this developing field.
- WorldForestID: Addressing the need for standardized wood reference collections to support authentication analysis technologies; a way forward for checking the origin and identity of traded timber
- Background and the use of isoscapes in the Brazilian context: essential tool for isotope data interpretation and natural resource management
- Timber isoscapes. A case study in a mountain area in the Italian Alps
- Stable isotope databases for European food products
- Verifying the declared origin of timber using stable isotope ratio and multi-element analyses
Concerned about legal risks in wood supply chains? Join TimberCheck™ or check the Timber Risk Map. Want to know where your lumber originated? Start a WoodFlow™. Curious what the forest looks like after the harvest, request access to TimberSat™.