Can we help safeguarding our forests by providing customs officers and other stakeholders with a timber tracking tool allowing them to identify illegally logged wood samples? A case study in ebony woods.
In collaboration with prof. Fons Verbeek (LIACS, Leiden University) and dr. Barbara Gravendeel, we are setting up a reference collection of high-resolution images from wood anatomical sections of ebony woods (Diospyros, Ebenaceae). These images are being subjected to machine learning in order to identify wood samples at the species level (part of EU funded Plant.ID ITN consortium). Ebony woods are frequently being traded in such extent that CITES decided to put all Malagasy species under protection and thereby avoiding overexploitation and extinction of the ebony trees on the island. With our research, we aim to build a timber identification tool for customs officers and other stakeholders involved in combatting illegal logging around the world.