How you’re the one who makes illegal logging around the world possible

Contributing to illegal logging is frighteningly easy – as easy as
stepping into a wood product retail store and purchasing a chair or a
table whose origins are unknown. And which is potentially made from
timber that was illegally cut and/or exported.

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Illegal logging occurs in all types of forests, from Brazil to Canada,
Cameroon to Kenya, and from Indonesia to Russia, destroying nature,
damaging communities and distorting trade. This practice mainly exists because of increasing demand for timber, paper and derivative products (including packaging), a trend which is likely to continue in the future.

Illegal logging can also happen when forests are cleared for plantations such as oil palm. But not all wood removal is due to trade. In fact, 40% of wood taken from forests globally is used for basic energy needs such as cooking and heating. In tropical regions wood removal (often illegal) for fuel can be as high as 80%.a

Why is illegal logging still happening? A considerable number of agreements, fora and conventions have attempted to deal with the problem – and yet illegal logging still persists. There are several reasons for this:

* High demand for timber products

Illegal logging is a profitable activity because there is such
high demand for timber products, from flooring to tissue. This demand
originates from the European Union and countries such as Japan and the
US, and in emerging economies such as China (see graph below). 7

* Weak rule of law

Illegal logging is of particular concern in countries where laws
are weakly applied, or even not at all. Where officials have few
incentives to stop illegal logging, or can even benefit from it
themselves, they can act with little concern of being arrested.

Trade rules are still not strong enough to stop illegal timber
and timber products to move across borders. Identifying and stopping
illegal timber is difficult, unless a critical mass of countries
implement similar requirements.

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