New tool for wood identification

With three trillion trees and four billion hectares of forest, identifying wood is hard. So with the help of technology computer scientists of the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS) in collaboration with wood anatomists from Naturalis Biodiversity Center and internationally-renowned specialists hope to develop a computer-aided tool for wood identification.

Forests cover 30% of the earth’s land area, representing about four billion hectares and three trillion trees. Over the past 15 years, forested regions comparable to the combined area of France, Spain and the United Kingdom have been lost worldwide. This loss both reduces the carbon storage of forests, one of our main buffers of CO2 extracted from the atmosphere and leads to declines in biodiversity.

Recent evaluations of global logging show that deforestation in the tropics is currently occurring at an even faster pace, due to unsustainable agriculture, mining and illegal felling but tracking is poor as few efficient forensic tools are available for timber identification.

With the Deep Learning approach, the recognition percentage of the species has increased to as much as 96.4%. This new reference database will allow the development of a tool that enables customs officials and other stakeholders to identify a block of wood more accurately than wood anatomy experts.

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