Western Australian-based company Interpredata has been awarded a $60,000 Australian Government traceability grant to build a DNA database for timber and help prevent illegal logging.

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud and Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Senator Jonno Duniam said the database was an innovative step in providing certainty for businesses and combating fraud.

“There have been problems in the past with illegal logging and timber substitution, and while DNA traceability is effective, it can be very slow and labour-intensive,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Interpredata, together with the University of Adelaide, will use this funding to develop a tracing system that will use DNA as an analytical tool.

“This can be used to build a world-class database that can help in the global fight against illegal logging.

“While it will provide peace of mind to businesses that they are buying a sustainably harvested product, this DNA database will also help to detect fraud and misleading statements about timber products, such as species.

“What’s really special about this project is that once the technology is developed, it can be applied across all agricultural products. It doesn’t just have to stop at one sector.

Assistant Minister Duniam said the grant supports the government’s broader efforts against illegal logging, with Australia’s illegal logging laws making it a criminal offence to import or process illegally logged timber.

“We know that consumers in Australia and internationally want greater transparency and real time advice about the origin and sustainability of product in the modern digital marketplace,” Assistant Minister Duniam said.

“Whether it’s through developing block-chain technology to assist with food safety, an app to track kangaroo meat harvesting, or a DNA database to combat illegal logging, these round two projects will give Aussie businesses the competitive edge.”

Greg Stocks, Managing Director, Interpredata said: “We thank the Australian Government for this grant and look forward to working with the University of Adelaide to deliver this project.”

For more details on the 14 successful round two projects visit the Traceability Grants Program website.