UNEP and INTERPOL Release Rapid Response Report on Illegal Logging

27 September 2012: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) have released a rapid response report on illegal logging. The report, titled “Green Carbon: Black Trade,” estimates that the illegal logging trade is worth between US$30-100 billion annually and hampers efforts related to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD). 

The report indicates that criminal groups are combining traditional tactics such as bribes with new strategies, including hacking government websites. Detailing 30 ways of procuring and laundering illegal activities, the report states that the most common methods include falsification of permits, payment of bribes to obtain goods, logging beyond concessions, and hacking government websites to obtain or alter electronic permits.

To combat the observed practices, the report makes the following recommendations: increase national investigative and operational capacities through training on transnational environmental crime; centralize all land-clearing permits to one national register, improving transparency and monitoring; classify geographic regions based on suspected degree of illegality and restrict flows of timber and wood products from such areas; encourage tax fraud investigations with a particular focus on plantations and mills; and reduce investment attractiveness in forest enterprises active in regions identified as areas of illegal logging by implementing an international INTERPOL-based rating system of companies extracting, operating in or buying from regions with a high degree of illegal activity. [UNEP Press Release] [Publication: Green Carbon: Black Trade]