Illegal logging drives deforestation in many countries, robbing national governments and local communities of valuable income and contributing to global biodiversity loss and climate change. Apart from its environmental and economic damage, illegal logging can fuel corruption, and is sometimes linked to organized crime and violent social conflict.
A new guide, Sourcing Legally Produced Wood: A Guide for Business, provides four actions companies can take to source legal wood. The guide aims to help companies avoid illicit logging in their supply chains—both for the good of the world’s forests and their own bottom lines.
Clearing land for timber and agriculture is likely to blame for Indonesia's latest bout of fires. According to data from Global Forest Watch—a new online system that tracks tree cover change, fires, and other information in near-real time—roughly half of these fires are burning on land managed by oil palm, timber, and logging companies—despite the fact that using fire to clear land is illegal in Indonesia.
Less than four months ago, millions of people across Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia were choking on the worst air pollution ever recorded in Southeast Asia as hundreds of fires burned across Sumatra. The fires caused serious damage, eliciting a public health emergency, closing schools and harming tourism and other businesses.
This week the Sultan of Brunei is hosting many of Asia’s heads of state for the 23rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit. Preventing new fires and haze are high on the agenda. Key decisions and actions are urgently needed from the presidents and prime ministers this week.
Brazil is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world. What is less known is that the country is the fourth largest industrial roundwood (timber left as logs, not sawn into planks) and wood pulp producer and ninth largest paper producer in the world. Brazil’s forest sector contributed 5 percent to the national gross domestic product in 2012. Brazil’s forests are not only home to communities and a haven for biodiversity, they are also part of the country’s economic backbone.
Brazil’s government has made impressive progress towards balancing forest protection and production. In 2012, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon dropped to its lowest rate in more than two decades. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research has pioneered the use of satellite data to prevent illegal logging. And the forest sector uses the Forest Source Document system (Documento de Origem Florestal, DOF), a sophisticated electronic system to track the wood flow throughout the supply chain.
Despite these positive steps, illegal logging and associated trade in the Amazon continues. Beyond the negative social and environmental impacts, illegal logging poses a serious problem for businesses producing legal wood products. With a price difference of up to 40 percent, legal wood simply cannot compete with cheaper illegal wood.
To reduce illegal logging and support the legal actors in the forest sector, Brazil must strengthen its forest control systems and policies.
Illegal logging in Central Africa results in the loss of millions of dollars in revenue each year, exacerbates poverty in forest-dependent communities, accelerates forest ecosystem degradation and undermines efforts to invest in long-term sustainable forest management. WRI, in collaboration with the International Conservation Union and the Inter-African Forest Industries Association, developed a set of legality standards that assesses if timber products produced and exported in Central Africa are legal. Those legality indicators are now being used by governments of forest-rich countries in Central Africa for establishing their own national standards, notably in view of satisfying European Union regulations which will soon require that all imported timber products come from legal sources. In addition, WRI works with those governments to map and monitor their logging concessions and protected areas.
Stretching across six countries, the Congo Basin contains the second largest
contiguous tropical rain forest in the world and is home to a wealth of
biodiversity and wildlife populations. As global demand for the region’s forest
resources continues to grow, Central African nations recognize the importance
of managing these resources for the future.
WRI has been working with the Republic of Congo’s Ministry of Forest
Economy and a Congolese environmental group since 2004 to help that
country gather and digitize data on all its forest concessions, logging roads,
and protected areas for the first time. Forests cover 22 million hectares,
almost 65% of Congo’s territory. Forestry related revenue is second
only to that of petroleum to Congo’s economy.
Combined with training programs, the interactive forest atlas
produced through this collaboration helps the Congolese
government better monitor and manage its forest concession
titles, adjust taxable areas accordingly, and prioritize its limited
resources to combat illegal logging by dispatching field control
units to investigate pre-identified problem areas rather than
stumbling upon them.
Cameroon’s forests, covering more than 20 million hectares, offer a range of ecosystem services and are vital resources for both biodiversity and economic growth. But illegal loggers also find value in the forests, and illegal logging has long threatened local livelihoods, decimated wildlife, and squandered public revenue. The Cameroonian government is responsible for controlling logging activities, but a lack of adequate forest-related information, tools, and capacity has historically made it difficult to monitor logging activities.
Recognizing this critical gap, WRI launched a partnership in 2002 with Cameroon’s Ministry of Forestry and interested NGOs. WRI’s goal was to provide information and tools that would improve transparency, accountability, and forest monitoring — ultimately serving as the springboard for a crackdown on illegal logging. WRI developed interactive maps, data, and decision-support systems to monitor logging activities and trained government officials, NGO, and private sector representatives on their use. These systems have:
Enabled Cameroonian officials to systematically detect logging violations in protected areas and outside of forest concessions.
Empowered local NGOs to conduct independent monitoring of logging operations.
Helped ensure wood products leaving Cameroon were harvested legally, in compliance with international import regulations such as the FLEGT and U.S. Lacey Act.
As the first international NGO to map Cameroon’s forests and place accurate, up-to-date information into public hands, WRI sent ripples through the Cameroonian forest sector, making it clear that illegal logging would no longer go unnoticed or unpunished.