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  • World bank urges illegal logging crackdown

    May 1, 2012
    by Angela Faloppa

    Illegal logging (Copyright understory)

    A new report by the World Bank (WB) shows how countries can effectively fight illegal logging through the criminal justice system, punish organized crime, and trace and confiscate illegal logging profits.

    Every two seconds, an area of forest the size of a football field is clear-cut by illegal loggers around the globe. The WB estimates that illegal logging in some countries accounts for as much as 90 percent of all logging and generates approximately US$10–15 billion annually in criminal proceeds. Mostly controlled by organized crime, this money is untaxed and is used to pay corrupt government officials at all levels.

    The new report provides policy and operational recommendations for policy makers and forestry and law enforcement actors to integrate illegal logging into criminal justice strategies, foster international and domestic cooperation among policy makers, law enforcement authorities and other key stakeholders, and make better use of financial intelligence.

    “We need to fight organized crime in illegal logging the way we go after gangsters selling drugs or racketeering,” said Jean Pesme, Manager of the World Bank Financial Market Integrity team.

    Most forest crimes still go undetected, unreported, or are ignored. In addition, estimates of criminal proceeds generated by forest crimes do not capture their enormous environmental, economic and societal costs.

    To be effective, law enforcement needs to look past low-level criminals and look at where the profits from illegal logging go. By following the money trail, and using tools developed in more than 170 countries to go after ‘dirty money’, criminal justice can pursue criminal organizations engaged in large-scale illegal logging and confiscate ill-gotten gains.

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