Project properties

Title TIMTRACE � Forensic timber tracing
Group Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group
Project type thesis
Credits 18-39
Supervisor(s) FEM group: Barbara Rocha Venancio Meyer-Sand OR Laura Boeschoten
Examiner(s) Prof. Dr. P.A. Zuidema
Contact info or
Begin date 2020/07/14
End date
Description Also possible as Internship/BSc thesis

Illegal logging has been an issue for proper forest management, undermining legal timber exploitation and trade. Up to 50% of the tropical timber traded at the European market is at risk to be from illegal origin. Chemical and genetics tools can be used to trace the origin of timber to either support committed timber traders to prove the origin of their timber or to help authorities to verify the origin claims to combat this illegal trade.
You will analyze genetic or chemical data to assess variation among sites for three important timber groups: azob� (Lophira alata), tali (Erythrophleum suaveolens and E. ivorense) and dark red meranti (Shorea spp, multiple species).
Type of work

The project comprises fieldwork with a duration of 6-8 weeks either in Indonesia, Gabon or Congo. The fieldwork consists of sample collection from bark, sap- and hardwood of the targeted species. Field work will be in July-August 2020 or October-November 2020. In addition, genetic or chemical analysis will be conducted, and (optionally) results may be used.

Possible research questions for a thesis are:

1) Can a single set of SNP markers distinguish species and origin? 2) Are genotypes structured according to their geographic origin? 3) Are there any region-specific genetic variants? 4) How does the number and the sub-set composition of SNP markers impact the spatial resolution of assignments tests within a country ?

Chemical analyses
1) What is the spatial variation within the elemental concentrations of tropical hardwood within a site and between sites? 2) Which elements can distinguish wood between forests?

Potential thesis topics have an emphasis on labwork for chemical or genetic analyses.

Learning outcome:
Population genetics or chemical analyses, statistical analyses, fieldwork skills.

For more information see: AND

[Population and forest dynamics/ Sustainable forest management/Africa /Asia/ Tropical zone]

Used skills We are looking for an enthusiastic student, with very good adaptation skills and who is passionate about tropical forests. Working knowledge of French and fieldwork experience are highly appreciated
Requirements Standard for MSc thesis:
FEM-30306 Forest Ecology and Forest Management; REG-31806 Ecological Methods I;

Standard for BSc:
minimal 120 credits