Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 06/2011

Reducing demand for illegal timber: Targeting corruption in customs and procurement

January 2011

Transparency International


Corruption and illegal logging are well-known drivers of deforestation. In 2001 it was estimated that major timber exporting countries — Indonesia, Brazil and Cameroon — had an illegal logging rate of at least half of their total timber production. This illegal timber finds its way into the consumer markets, often unchecked or unidentified by timber importing countries and industries. As a result, it has been estimated that 20 per cent of wood-based products entering the EU are likely to be illegally sourced. A crucial aspect of stemming the flow of and demand for illegal timber is improving customs and procurement regulations in importing countries. With some exceptions, timber-consuming countries are beginning to recognise their role in fighting illegal logging. Since 2003, the European Union’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade initiative (EU-FLEGT) has focused on ensuring the legality of timber imports and promoting better governance through licensing of legal wood in partner countries. In the US, the 2008 Lacey Act amendments banned the illegal trade in timber and established severe penalties for those found to be in violation of the law.