Left: Charcoal Miler with residual wood in Peru, Middle:Tangential section of Teak charcoal,
Right: Transverse section of "Copaifera-Type" charcoal.

The results of the currently published IAWA paper “The European charcoal trade” (Haag et al. 2020, DOI 10.1163/22941932-bja10017) have attracted considerable media interest. Nature (news) and Spektrum.de, etc., reported on the study which has distinctly shown that a large volume of charcoal sold in Europe comes from tropical forests and is often incorrectly labelled, raising questions about their legality (https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02672-z).

For the actual project, a total of 150 charcoal consignments from eleven European countries were examined and anatomical identified by using a 3D-reflected light microscopy technique as described in the simultaneously published IAWA paper “Wood identification of charcoal with 3D-RLM” by Zemke et al. (DOI 10.1163/22941932-bja10033). The special microscopic technique was developed by Keyence® (not personally by Haag as erroneously stated in nature news) and is regularly applied since 2016 for the identification of charcoal and briquette at the Thünen-Institute, Hamburg. Overall, the comprehensive anatomical investigations and market studies contribute to an essential understanding of charcoal transit in Europe (worldwide) and evidence the necessity/importance to include charcoal in the respective annex to the European Timber Regulation (EUTR).

Gerald Koch