Protecting forest in Gabon with Stable Isotope testing
Global demand for low-cost forest products is leading manufacturers and traders to source timber and wood products from vulnerable nations and delicate ecosystems.
This study aimed to assess the differences in stable isotope ratio profile of a variety of timber samples collected from two FSC concessions in Gabon, for the purposes of origin classification, and to enable operators and Law Enforcement agencies to carry out due diligence checks and forensic investigations.
Forty-seven samples were subject to 18O/16O, D/H, 13C/12C, 15N/14N and 34S/32S stable isotope analysis using elemental analysis-isotope ratio mass spectrometry (EA-IRMS).
Additional data from relevant taxa and geographic origins (altitude, soil type, geographic co-ordinates) were used to assess potential higher-order spatial patterns in the data.
Results show that significant differences are evident in the stable isotope ratios of Aucoumea klaineana between PWG (Precious Woods Group) and CBG forest concessions.
Relationships are evident between climatic and geological variables and the stable isotope ratios of the samples suggesting that further degrees of origin classification may be achievable in Gabon.
The data presented establishes a basis for evaluating origin claims of forest products and timber from the CBG and PW concessions and lays a foundation for future development of timber tracking technologies in Gabon.