illegal logging

Illegal logging costs between 30 and 100 billion USD annualy

According to a joint report produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and INTERPOL, the illegal logging, by organized crime groups, is estimated to be worth between USD 30 and 100 billion annually. 

Illegal logging now accounts for between 15 and 30% of the global legal trade, according to recently published The Rapid Response Report, entitled ‘Green Carbon: Black Trade’. If we take into account that between 50 to 90 % of illegal logging is located in tropical countries of the Amazon basin, Central Africa and South East Asia, we see that the problem is substantial. This illegal logging activities are carried out by organized crime, threatening efforts to combat climate change, deforestation, conserve wildlife and eradicate poverty.

In addition, together with illegal logging there are associated other meanigful crimes such as murder, corruption, fraud and theft, with indigenous forest inhabitants particularly affected.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director said:

“Funding to better manage forests represents an enormous opportunity to not only address climate change but to reduce rates of deforestation, improve water supplies, cut soil erosion and generate decent green jobs in natural resource management.
Illegal logging can, however, undermine this effort, robbing countries and communities of a sustainable future, if the unlawful activities are more profitable than the lawful ones under REDD+”. 

In the report you can find 30 key methods used by organized crime groups to procure and launder illegal timber, including:

  • falsification of logging permits,
  • bribes to obtain permits,
  • logging beyond legally-operated concessions,
  • hacking official websites to obtain or change electronic permits, or
  • selling timber and wood originating from wild forests as plantation timber – often with government subsidies for plantations.

Ronald K. Noble, Secretary General of INTERPOL, said:

“The threat posed to the environment by transnational organized crime requires a strong, effective and innovative international law enforcement response to protect these natural resources and combat the corruption and violence tied to this type of crime, which can also affect a country’s stability and security”.

INTERPOL and UNEP, through the UN agency’s GRID Arendal centre in Norway, have started a pilot-project called LEAF (Law Enforcement Assistance to Forests) funded by the Norwegian Government agency NORAD to develop an international system to combat organized crime in close collaboration with key partners.

Source: The Rapid Response Report : Green Carbon: Black Trade

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