What Are the Causes and Effects of Illegal Logging?

Increased demand for timber, paper and forest products; flaws in forest governance and forest markets; forestry policy failure; corruption; and poverty are some of the causes of illegal logging. While trade-in timber is of economic importance, many timber consumers such as the European Union, have no legal way of stopping the import of illegally sourced forest products.

It is difficult to identify illegally traded timber. Legally, there are no laws against timber products or imports made out of illegal wood. Illegal logging leads to the destruction of forests and loss of biodiversity. It also has economic and social impacts on the poor. Many poor communities living near forests benefit from forest products. However, as demand for timber continues to rise, these poor communities lose out to logging companies and powerful interests.

Furthermore, illegal logging is often associated with organized crime, corruption, human rights abuse, violent conflict and money laundering. It undermines proper forest management, reduces the income of the producer countries and encourages tax evasion and corruption.

Deforestation caused by illegal logging leads to soil erosion. Scientists have also found links between deforestation and global warming. Illegal logging affects indigenous people, as they have no legal claim to the land on which they live. Therefore, logging companies and governments are able to profit from the forests by evicting these people.