German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Technical guidance for CITES implementation

Identification tool for CITES timber: "CITESwoodID"

The picture shows the cover of the CD CITESwoodID.

The annexes to CITES list a range of tropical tree species whose timber is traded to a greater or lesser extent. Effective and practicable enforcement of CITES for these timber species – which are also traded in Germany – requires an ability to identify them and distinguish them from similar types of timber.

Most CITES enforcement authorities have little or no knowledge of timber. This combined with a lack of practical identification aids has led to severe enforcement gaps in the timber sector.

To remedy this situation, BfN in its capacity as a scientific authority under CITES commissioned the development of CITESwoodID, an interactive CD-ROM for the identification of CITES timber species.

The first tool of its kind, CITESwoodID allows trade timber species protected under CITES to be identified from easily recognised macroscopic characteristics and direct comparison with images. Macroscopic characteristics are features that are visible to the naked eye or with a magnifying glass providing about 10x magnification.

Special care was taken to provide high-quality photographic images. The characteristics and the timber species are illustrated in colour. The illustrations supplement definitions and explanatory notes for use in identification.

Alongside the information on individual timber species protected under CITES, the database also contains descriptions and illustrations of other types of timber that are easily mistaken for them.

Participants of a workshop on identification of CITES traded timber
The picture shows participants of a workshop on identification of CITES traded timber.

In practical enforcement, macroscopic identification using the CD is often the only quick and economic way of telling timber species apart.

The CD is primarily intended for customs and nature conservation authorities, but is also useful for timber industry enterprises and employees, and for consumers and public institutions in raising awareness of species conservation issues relating to the timber trade.

The CD has been successfully used at national and international training events and has met with strong approval and demand in various national and international CITES bodies.

An updated version of the CD in all CITES official languages can be obtained.