The illegal logging issue
Illegal logging exists because enormous profits can be made. Illegal logging occurs when timber is harvested, transported, processed, bought or sold in violation or circumvention of national or sub-national laws. Illegal logging therefore describes a variety of illegal practices, ranging from theft of standing timber and logs through to corrupt business practices, such as under-declaring volumes processed, or tax avoidance. Illegal logging is a global problem. It occurs in tropical forests as well as temperate and boreal forests, and is estimated to cost the global economy between €10-15 billion annually. Read more about illegal logging and forest crime.
Illegal activities often have a devastating impact on biodiversity as well as human communities. The negative impacts of illegal logging include:
- Encouragement of corruption and bad practice.
- Major loss of revenue for governments, with knock-on effects for social infrastructure and human well-being in the countries concerned.
- Loss of long-term income and security for forest-based communities.
- Degradation and clearing of forests and consequent loss of habitat for plant and animal species.
- Increased vulnerability to natural disasters such as erosion, river silting, landslides, flooding and forest fires.
- Loss of long-term supplies of timber, threatening both quality and quantity.
- Undercutting of and unfair competition with responsible, well-managed forestry potentially leading otherwise committed managers from legal practices to illegal ones.
Illegal logging is a key issue on the international forest agenda, and the European Commission has taken critically important steps in trying to tackle the problem through the publication of the EU FLEGT Action Plan in 2003, the revision of the Public Utility Directives in 2004, the FLEGT Regulation in 2005 and the EU Timber Regulation in 2010.
Read more about FLEGT.