Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 02/2011

Timber Trafficking and Laundering: An Anti- Corruption Approach

Nina Wiesehomeier

July 2010

Transparency International


The trade in illegal timber and timber products leads to massive economic losses and environmental damage for the countries that are exploited. The World Bank has estimated that up to US$23 billion worth of timber is illegally felled or produced from suspicious origins each year,  leading to revenue losses from uncollected logging licenses or taxes. Despite international policy to control the trade in illegal timber, it continues to flourish and is facilitated by corruption. In the Asia Pacific region the trafficking of timber involves corruption in a range of processes along the entire demand and supply chain including logging, trading, manufacturing, importing and consumption. Timber trafficking is a trans-national problem. The high profits involved in the illegal timber trade provide incentives for smugglers to launder illegal timber for sale on international markets. This paper argues how an anti-corruption approach to the problem may help to finally break the trafficking chain.