What are the causes of illegal logging?
Illegal logging occurs when timber is harvested, transported, processed, bought or sold in violation of national or international laws.
It is driven by demand for timber, paper and derivative products, including packaging.
Another cause of illegal logging is forest conversion. Forest conversion is the clearing of natural forests for other purposes, mainly agricultural, but also for mines, infrastructure or urbanisation. Nowadays, forest conversion in the largest cause of global deforestation.
However, the main causes of illegal logging around the world are a lack of clarity around forest ownership, poor forest governance and greed for easy gain.
Why is it important to fight illegal logging?
It is important to fight illegal logging because of the damage it inflicts on people, societies and the environment.
Illegal logging drives deforestation, biodiversity loss and climate change.
It can deprive forest communities of livelihoods, and the natural resources they rely on, and lead to human rights violations, unrest and violence .
Forests are essential for the earth’s natural support systems, and in helping us achieve the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. Both are endangered by illegal logging.
What are the solutions to stop illegal logging?
The way to address illegal logging is by tackling its root causes, which include corruption, power imbalances, a lack of clarity over land rights and the excessive influence of the timber industry and other groups with vested interests, over forest policies and legislation.
Solutions must centre on improving forest and land governance, respecting Indigenous Peoples’ land rights and developing processes in which government policies to halt deforestation are developed with a strong buy-in from local stakeholders (such as local communities, NGOs and the private sector).
What can the European Union do to stop illegal timber products to enter the EU market?
To stop illegal logging, in 2003 the European Union (EU) launched its flagship anti-illegal logging policy, the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan. It sets out a series of measures to end the scourge of illegal logging, including the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), which requires companies to verify the legality of any timber products they import into the EU, and Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs), which are timber trade deals the EU signs with forested countries.
FLEGT can make a real difference to communities trying to ensure they are recognised as the legal owners of the forests they live in and depend upon.