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Illegal logging

Illegal logging is directly connected to corruption, weak and unclear laws, compromised officials, feeble government institutions and fragile civil society. It devastates communities, destroys the environment, denies tax revenue to governments and can trap countries in a cycle of poverty.

Laws can also however forbid small scale logging despite it often being both sustainable and an integral part of the local economy, supporting political parties, small companies, and local communities. This is why just clamping down on illegal activities doesn’t get to the root cause of the problem.

It will only be possible to tackle the root causes of illegal logging if:

  • It is possible to see and record what is happening (transparency),
  • People are being held to account for upholding the law (accountability),
  • People have the skills, time and resources to monitor logging activities and point out any problems (capacity), and
  • Relevant laws support, not undermine, local communities’ rights (just laws).

A capable and well-informed local, national and international civil society can help to achieve these changes, by demanding transparency, holding institutions and individuals to account, challenging the excessive influence of the timber industry over forest policies, and campaigning for legal reform.

To ensure that attempts to end illegal logging are successful, ‘just’ laws need to be in place to ensure that the legal system supports communities, instead of penalising them. This means that the people affected by forestry operations must have the power to influence legislation and policies related to forestry, and be able to campaign for effective enforcement.

Promoting legal timber

Legal logging, if based on environmentally sound and socially just principles, can improve forest management practices, whilst providing livelihoods for local communities.

The EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Action Plan, and especially the Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA) negotiated between wood producing countries and the EU create a good basis for the production of truly sustainable timber. FLEGT VPAs aim to ensure that wood being sold in the EU can be shown to be legally sourced, and that a transparent, accountable and sustainable timber trade supports, rather than harms forest communities.

FLEGT VPAs will not solve the problems of illegal logging overnight. But they are currently the most promising international tool for tackling the root causes, and promoting lasting positive change in the forests.

 

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Get the latest news about illegal logging

 

FERN's monthly newsletter Forest Watch includes up-to-date information on illegal logging and FLEGT VPAs. Sign-up to receive Forest Watch monthly and read past editions here.

Regular updates about illegal logging and FLEGT VPAs from partner organisations in specific countries are published on www.loggingoff.info.

To learn more about FERN’S illegal logging campaign, see the Forest Law and Governance (FLEGT) pages.

Most recent publications

Where are forests in Europe’s plans to make the Sustainable Development Goals a reality?

by Indra Van Gisbergen

In September 2015, after the largest consultation in the history of the United Nations, more than 150 world leaders agreed on a new agenda to “free the human race from the tyranny of poverty”.

The Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs) lay out 17 universal goals, targets and indicators to frame the agendas and policies of UN member states for the next 15 years.

Launched amid great fanfare with the support of celebrities from Beyoncé to Usain Bolt and Stephen Hawking, the SDG’s aims include ending “poverty in all its forms everywhere”; achieving “food security and improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture”, and taking “urgent action to combat climate change and its impact”.

But between outlining these lofty ambitions and realising them, lies an enormous gulf: the daunting and fiendishly complex task of agreeing on the policies required.

Forest Watch special: VPA update November 2016

LoggingOff and Fern publish an occasional Forest Watch special VPA update, which provides a roundup of developments across countries involved in VPA processes, from a civil society perspective. In the November 2016 edition, the main article examines the fact that Indonesia is on the verge of issuing the world's first FLEGT licences.

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PDF iconVPA update November 2016465.48 KB

Fern's input to the EU Consultation on revising the European Consensus on Development

Fern's input into the European Commission consultation on how development policy, in the context of EU external action as foreseen by the Lisbon Treaty, should respond to the range of landmark 2015 summits and conferences, and also to the rapid changes happening in the world.

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PDF iconFern response to consultation.pdf107.78 KB

EU - Stop Supporting the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition

This statement on behalf of Fern and Transparency International (TI) welcomes the European Parliament resolution adopted on 7 June 2016, which calls on the European Union (EU) to halt its support to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.

Tackling illegal logging, deforestation and forest degradation – a global agenda for the EU

This letter from eight NGOs to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission encourages the EU to intensify its diplomatic efforts with major forest-rich countries to tackle illegal logging, deforestation and forest degradation, engage in sustained dialogue at the highest level with its partners internationally, and increase the coherence of its policies to effectively play its part in ending deforestation and the rights violations frequently associated with it.

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