Forests are key to life. 1.2 billion poor people depend on trees and forests for their wood, fuel, fodder and food.
Illegal logging is one of the major causes of deforestation. It deprives people of their livelihoods and fuels conflict in fragile areas. A decade of international effort to improve the way forests are governed, and tackle illegal logging and its related trade, has led to improvements in the lives of tens of millions of the world’s poorest people.
These are the findings of a report released today by Chatham House. The report, Illegal Logging and Related Trade: Indicators of the Global Response, was carried out by independent researchers across a range of countries and shows that the total global production of illegal timber has fallen by 22% since 2002.
Speaking at the launch event, International Development Minister Stephen O’Brien, said:
In the world’s poorest countries, illegal logging fuels corruption and results in billions of pounds in lost revenue every year.
For the hundreds of millions of people across the globe who depend on forests for their livelihood, curbing the scourge of illegal logging means vital sources of income remain protected.
This groundbreaking report sets out the success stories brought about through international efforts in reducing illegal logging which encourages us all to pursue these efforts further and further.
Forests and people
The short film below shows how the Knasaimos people of West Papua, Indonesia have benefited from recent government measures to clamp down on illegal logging.
The Knasaimos People from Handcrafted Films on Vimeo.
The Chatham House report highlights that reducing illegal logging has huge financial benefits for developing countries, with every £1 invested in tackling illegal logging bringing £6 of additional revenue into the exchequers of developing countries. This money can then be used to alleviate poverty by building up education and health systems and providing better access to clean water and sanitation.
One third of the world’s largest cities rely on water flows regulated by forests for their drinking supply. Forests contain more than half of land-based plant and animal species. The report also found that improving the way that forests are governed is one of the cheapest methods of cutting greenhouse gases at a cost of £2 or less per tonne of carbon.
Despite the decline in illegal logging, deforestation is still occurring at an alarming rate: 13 million hectares a year - an area 7 times the size of Wales.
Further progress in tackling this problem will require action both by timber producing countries and by wood consumer countries like the UK.
But progress is being made. Last week, the UK worked hard to get legislation passed by the European Parliament which will make it illegal to sell illegally-logged timber in the European Union. DFID is working closely with the EU on its Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade Action Plan under which countries enter into treaties that commit them to improve the way they govern their forests and reduce the supply of illegally logged timber. DFID is also supporting a range of forested nations, such as Indonesia, Ghana and Cameroon, in their efforts to tackle illegal logging, address climate change and reduce poverty.
If governments, the private sector and local communities continue to work together in partnership, it will be possible to eradicate the problem of illegal logging and the threat it presents to livelihoods, government revenue and peace in many developing countries.