World Forest ID was created in 2017 by WRI, the Royal Botanic Gardens-Kew, USFS-International Programs and others, bringing together expertise in science, traceability and forestry to create a new approach to species and origin verification for forest risk commodities, including timber. Initially a consortium project, World Forest ID became an independent non-profit in 2021, with a continued focus on creating comprehensive reference data and unique origin models to enable traceable and transparent forest-connected supply chains.

World Forest ID’s open-access tool can be used by a diverse array of actors. It can support enforcement officials in identifying illicitly harvested commodities or those originating from areas of active conflict, thereby aiding the implementation of international environmental and trade regulations, enforcement of sanctions and prosecution of environmental crimes. Civil society organizations can use it to hold companies accountable. Responsible industry actors can enhance the integrity of their supply chains, comply with established regulation and emerging voluntary measures, increase sustainable, transparent and ethical practices, and reassure consumers.

Utilizing machine learning to combine data derived from the chemical analysis of geolocated physical reference samples with other environmental datasets and satellite imagery, World Forest ID’s output is a comprehensive spatial reference model against which samples of traded products can be tested to verify or challenge their claimed harvest origin. As of February 2024, 35,000 physical reference samples of 378 plant species have been collected, covering a growing number of forest risk commodities, including timber, soy, cocoa, coffee, palm oil and rubber. World Forest ID currently has samples from 48 countries, where they have partnered with local organizations, indigenous groups and thoroughly trained local collectors. The organization is supported by a diverse set of donors, including governments, philanthropies and responsible companies, as well as a large network of global partners including universities, scientific institutions, NGOs and private companies.