What Constitutes Illegal Logging?
Illegal logging is a general phrase used to broadly describe the illegal occupation of private or public lands with the intention of harvesting protected or controlled species of trees for trading. The term also sometimes refers to the entire supply chain process which includes transportation, processing, manufacturing and resale of illegally obtained timber. Frequently, illegal logging activities involve collusion with and corruption of government officials, intimidation and violent acts perpetrated by paid thugs, and avoidance of paying taxes.
Illegal logging is mostly seen in developing and third-world countries. The major markets for illegal lumber used to be the United States and European countries. However, in recent years, China and India has emerged as major destinations for the illegal timber trade. Smaller scale illicit logging activities are also seen in the EU, most notably in Romania’s ancient spruce forests. However, the volume is easily dwarfed by countries like Brazil and Indonesia.
Some may wonder why illegal logging should concern them. After all, why should a particular economic activity be subjected to extreme regulations, and why customers are forced to police the products they purchase? The answer is simple. If you have ten gmain-rwn trees, and each take 5 years to mature, would you cut, harvest and sell all of them at the same time? Or would it be more logical to cut just two trees annually to ensure a sustainable supply of timber for perpetuity? Considering the fact that only 5% of the planet’s 3.9 billion hectares of forest area is replanted, the threat of depleting our trees is very real. Obviously, this simplistic scenario does not take into account the many other economic and ecologic consequences of illegal logging.
The illegal logging market has been variously estimated to range between 10% and 30% of the over $200 billion global timber trade.