Although this generation is more eco-aware than our ancestors it has to be said that we still have a long way to go in terms of re-education and innovative logging practice that puts sustainability and conservation ahead of profit.
Unfortunately, illegal loggers continue to produce timber to the tune of $US17billion. These criminal operations often run alongside legitimate cartels, making them extremely difficult to expose. According to the UN, illicit loggers cause advanced deforestation and an upsurge in greenhouse gases whilst impoverishing local communities and encouraging corruption on a global level.
China, Vietnam and other areas of South East Asia are working on replanting projects although these tend to be of one particular type of tree, thereby losing the diversity of natural forests.
Whilst it is true that more than 50% of illegal loggers are acquitted when and if they reach trial due to localised bribery and corruption, it is encouraging to note that in 2011 a Papua New Guinean court fined a Malaysian logging organisation $100million for illicit logging. In Brazil alone, it is estimated that illegal logging is worth anything between $50-100 billion a year, but of course, it costs the earth much more.
It’s not all doom and gloom
From September to November 2012 a blow for those loggers who are trying to do it legally came when Interpol intelligence seized 2,000 trucks loaded with illegally hewn lumber during Operation Lead. This raid was the largest in illegal logging operation history and spanned 12 countries across Latin America including Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Bolivia yielding 50,0003 metres of timber to the value of $ 8 million.
Worldwide organisations recognise that illegal logging companies have a negative impact on the structure of local communities in areas such as health and safety, the general quality of life, crime, and security. This illegal trade also seriously impacts lost revenue and jobs.
Illegal logging, left unchecked, will continue to cause lasting damage to the planet as well as damaging native communities threatening corruption, fraud, extortion, money laundering, and violent crime.
EU doing its part
From March 2013 the EU has introduced strict compliance regulations specifically created to significantly reduce and eliminate illicitly logged wood and products. These new regulations include a proviso for all import companies to source the supply chain of all timber purchased.
By ensuring companies can trace the origin of their imports and supply legal certification of same, the EU has gone some way to helping to protect the forestry of the earth. The UK have gone one step further and company directors and/or owners who fail to check the origin of wood supplies can face up to two years in prison.
The highly successful Operation Lead was part of a wide scale initiative, Project Leaf, which Interpol’s Environmental Crime Programme, in partnership with the UN Environmental Programme gives financial and practical help to countries and communities affected by illegal logging. Environmental re-education plays a huge part too with 17% of harmful emissions caused by deforestation, a figure which is 1½ times more than CO2 emissions from air, rail, road and shipping traffic the world over.
Current figures show that 90% of certified forests are sited in Europe and North America with the main perpetrators of illegal logging resident in the tropical forests of the Amazon, Central Africa and South East Asian regions.
With both national and international framework protection in place and constantly evolving, it is hoped to significantly reduce illicit logging within the next 5-years. To this end the UN and the World Bank actively support the Reducing Environment from Deforestation and Forest Degradation REDD; a workable structure built to support sustainable logging practice and reduce carbon emissions.