Corrupt government officials and informants who fear retribution. These are some of the challenges faced by citizens who become involved in helping enforce illegal logging regulations.
Three panelists discussed these and other forestry crime issues at March 21 webinar on “Citizen enforcement in the forestry sector”– Melissa Blue Sky, of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL); Ruth Noguerón, of the World Resources Institute and Shelley Gardner, Illegal Logging Program Coordinator, USDA Forest Service. Each touched on the issue.
Interpol estimates that illegal timber comprises 15-30% of the global timber trade. That amounts to between $51 and $152 billion worth of wood every year.
A study of illegal timber harvesting in Peru found that exporters are adept at finding new ways to evade export controls, Blue Sky said.
For example, harvesting modalities not always subject oversight in Peru. Timber is “red flagged” as illegal but exported anyway– often to countries without timber regulations. In some cases, documentation about the source of the timber is manipulated.
“In many cases, it involves that active participation of government officials and until they are held accountable for that, you don’t get at the root of the problem,” Blue Sky said.