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Chatham House: Illegal Logging and Related Trade: Indicators of the Global Response

Authors: Sam Lawson, and Larry MacFaul
July 15, 2010

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Chapter 1: Introduction and methodology

Illegal logging and associated trade in illegally sourced wood products are important causes of deforestation and forest degradation in many developing countries. Forest destruction in turn contributes up to 20 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Illegal logging also robs cash-strapped governments of vital revenues, has a devastating impact on the livelihoods of forest-dependent people, and fosters corruption and conflict.

Over the last decade governments, the private sector and civil society have recognized these impacts and have made increasing efforts to tackle the problem. This study attempts to measure the scale and the effectiveness of the response to illegal logging. It examines the response in countries where illegal logging occurs and also in those countries which import, process and consume illegally sourced wood.

In addition to measuring the extent to which illegal logging and associated trade has changed over time, the study examines how attention to the problem has changed and how governments and the private sector have responded. Various indicators and means of verification have been designed, tested and used by Chatham House to measure the response in five timber-producing countries, five consuming countries, and two countries whose timber trade is largely based on processing imported raw material
for export.

The study finds that while illegal logging remains a major problem, the impact of the response has been considerable. Illegal logging is estimated to have fallen during the last decade by 50 per cent in Cameroon, by between 50 and 75 per cent in the Brazilian Amazon, and by 75 per cent in Indonesia, while imports of illegally sourced wood to the seven consumer and processing countries studied are down 30 per cent from their peak.

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