In May 2014, the Member States of the United Nations adopted Resolution 23/1 on “strengthening a targeted crime prevention and criminal justice response to combat illicit trafficking in forest products, including timber.” The resolution promotes the development of tools and technologies that can be used to combat the illicit trafficking of timber. Stopping illegal logging worldwide could substantially increase revenue from the legal trade in timber and halt the associated environmental degradation, but law enforcement and timber traders themselves are hampered by the lack of available tools to verify timber legality. Here, we outline how scientific methods can be used to verify global timber supply chains. We advocate that scientific methods are capable of supporting both enforcement and compliance with respect to timber laws but that work is required to expand the applicability of these methods and provide the certification, policy, and enforcement frameworks needed for effective routine implementation.

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