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Illegal Logging

Illegal forestry activities encompass illegal logging, associated illegal trade, and other forest crimes. The willingness of governments and international organizations to address this issue in international policy forums reflects a promising emergence from years past when sensitivity over political and sovereignty concerns muffled discussions. As evidenced by the Bali Ministerial Declaration on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance recently signed by several Asian governments, policy dialogue has shifted toward improving governance, transparency, monitoring, and suppression of illegal activity.

Environmental NGOs have played an important part in raising political awareness of the issue, and they continue to be important actors in monitoring, detecting, and analysis of illegal forestry activities, associated illegal trade, and other forest crimes. Industry has also been increasingly vocal about the need to combat illegal logging and to ensure sustainable practices are undertaken. The problem is a far-reaching one, with negative consequences such as environmental degradation, disrupted trade and market access, unsustainable economic development, and uncaptured revenue for the state and local communities.

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However, combating illegal forestry activities is complex; challenges include unclear land tenure, lack of capacity to enforce legal bounds of contracts/permits, lack of local law enforcement, weak judicial systems, corruption, and weak independent auditing and investigation of company declarations. There is a growing global acknowledgement that stemming the detrimental environmental and economic effects of illegal forestry activities requires significant additional action.

Some promising partnerships and efforts are underway and in development. A number of international organizations are dedicating resources to tackling this issue: the World Bank, the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), and others have strong initiatives. In the U.S. , the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development are leading work to implement the President’s Initiative Against Illegal Logging. Several non-governmental organizations are active internationally and in countries to promote information collection, transparency, and capacity-building. In addition to being engaged in policy discussions, Forest International Programs is involved in technical cooperation efforts in Liberia and Russia to improve forest governance

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