Wood Biology for legal logging and sustainable forest use
Wood is omnipresent in the living nature, but there are many examples where it became a scarce economic commodity decisive for the rise and fall of many civilisations. The scarcity of wood has been the very fundament of the notion of sustainability, now extended by the Convention on Biodiversity to the use of components of biodiversity (see CBD Article 1. Objectives: “…conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits…”). The creator of the concept is Hans Carl von Carlowitz, born in 1645, who published in 1713, one year before he died in Freiburg, Germany, a 420 pages book titled Sylvicultura oeconomica. He stated that wood is as precious as bread and he developed proposals for long lasting solutions to cope with the scarcity of this natural resource. These were based on the principle of not cutting more trees than the increment of the standing stock. He advocated that an economy should be designed such that there is never a lack of wood. He coined the term “Nachhaltigkeit” which became, translated into “sustainability”, the central concept of many ongoing debates on the future of the planet. Sustainability has nowadays a more general meaning than the original connotation of continuous production of wood. However, given the importance of forests for environments and economies, it seems to be imperative not to lose out of view the importance of soundly using and conserving wood stocks. Management of biodiversity, aiming at a sustainable production of goods and services, is not feasible without a scientific approach that includes measurements, processing of data and development of theories on carrying capacity and resilience of forests.Our projects aim at underpinning a forest management that assures a sustainable production of wood. We also help enforcement of timber trade regulations like there are CITES, the European Timber Regulation and other forest conservation law, through identification of wood and establishing data bases underpinning the identification of the botanical and geographical origin.

Principal investigator:



Museum staff: