Arborvitae, the WWF/IUCN Forest Conservation Newsletter, issue 32, focus on illegal logging
However, we need to acknowledge that it is riddled with incentives, in terms of personal gain for corrupt companies and officials, basic livelihood options in the face of few other alternatives for some local communities, and lower prices for consumers who pay less for illegal
It is these incentives that need to be directly addressed by any efforts to curb illegal logging. And, while ‘sticks’ are obviously needed to clamp down on the perpetrators, they can be blunt weapons to wield, hurting not only the criminals but also, for example, small businesses that cannot afford to comply with costly regulations, or communities whose forest-based livelihoods are often criminalized by the application of unfair or archaic laws.
‘Carrots’ are ultimately more effective at getting at the root of the problem and offering all actors real incentives to make the switch to equitable and effective forest governance arrangements. Hence, for instance, the switch from timber import bans, which primarily frame illegal logging as a “consumer's problem”, to ‘soft’ instruments such as the Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) that are being developed under the EU action plan on forest law enforcement, governance and trade (FLEGT).
We also need a suite of tools that encourages industry to act responsibly. Among these are credible certification systems such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and market-based initiatives such as the Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) which brings together responsible companies and communities that want to play by the rules.
Changing the attitudes, behaviour and expectations of those currently benefiting from illegal logging will take time and a good deal of trial and error. Nonetheless, we need to act now, and get behind locally-owned initiatives that involve government, industry and civil society stakeholders in order to produce lasting solutions for the world’s forests.
- News from around the world Initiatives to address illegal logging in Acre, Brazil and forest governance in Liberia plus news in brief
- International initiatives: FLEG and the VPA process in Ghana
- Defining and verifying legality: Timber legality standards and verification mechanisms
- Feature: Illegal logging and the future of forests
- Illegal logging and forest livelihoods
- Tackling illegal logging: innovative cases - Reports from Indonesia, Mexico, Sri Lanka, DRC and Paraguay
- WWF focus Fighting illegal logging on all fronts
- IUCN focus Combating illegal logging – democracy at work
- Reviews in brief