Wood identification has never been more important to serve the purpose of global forest protection, by controlling international illegal timber trade and enabling the enforcement of timber trade regulations. Macroscopic wood identification is the fastest method for the first identification of an unknown timber and, with proper training, it can be performed by operators in the timber industry, restorers and curators of cultural heritage, wood traders, designers, students and customs officers. Here we describe a wood atlas and accompanying software, SIR-Legno, developed for the identification of 48 Italian timber species based on a recently proposed list of macroscopic features for wood identification. For each species the atlas provides a complete macroscopic description plus information on natural durability, end-use class, physico-mechanical properties, conservation status, maximum diameter of the bole and most frequent uses. For each genus covered by the atlas, information about species number, CITES-listed species, main commercial timbers, similarly-named timbers from other genera, geographical distribution and notes on species or species group recognition at macroscopic and microscopic level are provided. SIR-Legno is an educational product, a handy identification key and a tool to search woods by their natural durability, end-use class and physico-mechanical properties. Both the atlas and the software can be freely downloaded from the web. Thanks to the adoption of a codified list of characters and a transferable design, SIR-Legno can be easily replicated or expanded to other databases in order to include new species. SIR-Legno is freeware and works on any version of Windows.

In: IAWA Journal