Illegal logging makes up one third of tropical timber trading

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019 06:40 |
Illegal felling of trees is rampant in Western Kenya region. Photo/PD/File

A new report indicates that one third of tropical timber traded globally comes from illegal deforestation.

The significant number stems from an increase of timber traded on domestic markets, which are less regulated and strict than international, export-oriented markets.

More than 40 renowned scientists from around the world, including scientists from the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), produced the report.

“Forestry crime including corporate crimes and illegal logging account for up to Sh15.7 trillion every year, more than all official development aid combined,” said Erik Solheim, Head of United Nations Environment Programme. 

“Illegal logging is complex. Before measures can be taken to curb it, preliminary work is needed to further assess the activity’s causes, complex dynamics, impacts and trade-offs. This was the mission behind our report,” said Paolo Cerutti, one of the study’s key authors and a scientist at CIFOR.

Researchers found that bilateral trade agreements between producer and consumer countries- such as the European Union’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Action Plan (FLEGT)– have prompted shifts in the timber trade from industrial export-oriented markets to small-scale logging operations for the domestic market.

This pattern can be readily observed in Cameroon, Africa’s largest exporter of tropical hardwood to the EU. Due to a lack of government regulation concerning the domestic wood sector, almost half of the country’s timber is sold on the black market.

Since 2008, scientists from CIFOR have been studying the domestic timber sector in Central African countries, Latin America and Southeast Asia to draw attention to the urgent situation and urge policymakers to take action.

- Mwangi Mumero

More on Lifestyle