Illegal Logging


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  1. Black Market: Illegal Logging $30 Billion

News, information and statistics about illegal logging and the destruction of forests. Data about the illegal timber trade is collected from various wildlife charities, environmental protection agencies and other criminal justice information.

Between 1982 to 2012, an estimated 80 million cubic meters of wood was illegally logged in Romania, according to the Minister Delegate for Water and Forests. The illegal logging activities caused $6.8 Million (€5 Billion) in damage.

From 2007 to 2012, the rate of the illegal logging in Romania doubled, with illegal logging now occurring at twice the rate of reforestation and regeneration.

The legal timber industry in Romania is worth $5.5 Billion (€4 Billion).

Source:  AFP, “Massive logging leaves deep scars in Eastern Europe,” Google News, February 23, 2014.

According to international experts, $250 Million worth of timber is illegally logged in Mozambique each year. The amount of timber that is illegally cut down in the country accounts for nearly two-thirds of all logging activities in Mozambique.

Between 2000 and 2012, over two million hectares of forest has been cut down in Mozambique.

(More illegal logging statistics.)

Source:  “Illegal logging surges in Mozambique,” Mongabay.com, February 25, 2014.

Illegal logging activities was the top economic related crime in Laos in 2013, according to media reports.

Out of a total of 559 fraud or economic related crimes reported in Laos, 257 cases were related to illegal logging, or 46 percent of all cases.

During the investigations, security services seized 671,000 cubic meters of processed wood, 4.5 million cubic meters of logs, 15 chainsaws, 20 vehicles and 3 motorbikes. A total of $550,000 in cash was also recovered.

Laos has 24 protected national forests across the country.

Source:  “Illegal Logging Tops Economic Crime In Laos Last Year,” Bernama, February 18, 2014.

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According to a survey conducted by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in Indonesia, the Forest Ministry is viewed as being the most corrupt institution in the country.  The Commission found that illegal loggers buying logging permits through bribes were the most common form of corruption in the ministry.

Government data shows that 16 percent of logging permits that were issued by the ministry followed regulation and met all environmental requirements prior to being issued.

In addition to the forest ministry employees, workers from various criminal justice programs in Indonesia has also been found to have been participating in illegal logging. In May 2013, a police officer was arrested for running a $150 Million logging ring in the eastern Papua region.

As many as two million hectares of Indonesian forest is cut down and lost each year. The amount of forest lost is equivalent to 10,000 football fields per day.

Source:  “Indonesia struggles to clean up corrupt forestry sector,” Bangkok Post, January 1, 2014.

Illegal loggers are smuggling out the bois de rose tree out of Madagascar to meet high demand for the timber. The bois de rose tree are popular in international markets due to its natural ruby colored hue within the wood.

One illegal logging group leader stated that he pays his loggers $1.33 for each kilogram of bois de rose that they cut down.

Back in 2009, an estimated $491,000 worth of bois de rose trees were being exported out of Madagascar each day. Environmental protection officers believe that the amount being exported in 2013 was much higher.

(More underground economy salaries and income.)

Source:  Tamasin Ford, “Madagascar’s forests vanish to feed taste for rosewood in west and China,” Guardian, December 23, 2013.

The Myanmar Timber Merchants Association reports that its members lose up to $200 Million per year in revenue due to illegal logging activities.

The timber is illegally cut down and exported to China.

According to environmental security officials, the areas were illegally logging are highly active is in the Kachina and Shan states that are located near the Myanmar-China border.

Source:  “Millions lost in illegal timber trade with China,” Eleven Myanmar, December 4, 2013.

Environmental activists estimate that up to 80 percent of the timber that is processed in Vietnam was smuggled into the country from Cambodia and Laos. It is also alleged that the Vietnamese military assists in the smuggling of illegal timber.

The amount timber estimated to be smuggled into Vietnam in 2013 was higher than the 48 percent estimate made by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in 2010.

Source:  Marianne Brown, “EU timber policy slows illegal logging in Vietnam,” Deutsche Welle, November 26, 2013.

A report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) states that the Indonesian government has lost over $7 Billion in revenue from 2007 to 2011 due to illegal logging activities and corruption.

In 2011 alone, the estimated lost revenue was over $2 Billion, which HRW stated is more than the government’s entire budget for the health department.

In an example of corruption in Indonesia, one policeman made nearly $1 Million by helping protect illegal loggers and fuel smugglers in the region.

Source:  Berni Moestafa, “Forest Misuse Costs Indonesia $7 Billion in Revenue, Report Says,” Bloomberg, November 10, 2013.

The Attorney General of Peru stated that $10 Billion in illicit funds was laundered in the country in 2012, double the estimated $5 Billion that was laundered in 2011.  The money laundering activity that takes place in Peru accounts for 3.5 percent of the country’s GDP.

(Additional money laundering techniques.)

One new black market crime that is contributing to the funds is extortion. Gangs in a northern city collected over $900,000 in extortion fees between 2012 and 2013 from 14,000 taxi drivers. The funds were deposited into 150 different bank accounts.

According to Insight Crime, other major black market activities in Peru including drug trafficking, which generates up to $1.2 Billion a year, and illegal logging, a $500 Million industry.

Source:  Marguerite Cawley, “Growth of Extortion a Major Concern for Peru: Official,” Insight Crime, October 31, 2013.

Based on satellite images from environmental agencies, Brazilian based NGO Imazon reports that 78 percent of logging that took place between August 2011 and July 2012 was illegal.

Nearly 122,337 hectares of rainforest in Brazil was illegally logged during the time frame. The amount of illegal logging that took place was 151 percent higher than the 48,802 hectares of rainforest that was illegally logged the year before.

During the year, 34,902  hectares of licensed, legal logging took place, which means that illegal logging cut down 3.5 times more timber than legal logging in Brazil.

Source:  Rhett A. Butler, “Illegal logging remains rampant in Brazil,” Mongbay, October 23, 2013.