The world’s huge demand for timber and paper products has led in some places to increasingly unsustainable forest management – removing too many trees too quickly or logging entire forests. In order to provide a future for species and sustain natural forests – as well as ensuring wood resources into the future – there are now laws to control logging in key areas and stop trade in products from illegal sources. Unfortunately, these laws are often broken.
Illegal logging poses a serious threat to forests, people and wildlife. It puts pressure on all the forests WWF works in, whether in South America, central Africa or Indonesia. It contributes to global deforestation and climate change. It threatens many species with extinction. And it denies access to resources for forest-dependent communities.
Illegal logging undermines legitimate business by undercutting timber companies that act responsibly. It also diverts income away from sustainable development, and it causes social conflicts and financial losses for forest-rich developing countries, costing them 10-15 billion Euros a year. Illegal logging is often linked to organised crime, money-laundering and civil wars.
Shockingly, up to now there’s been nothing to stop the illegal timber trade being an active part of the UK market, and more broadly across the EU. A recent WWF report found that 16-19% of the timber imported into the EU is from illegal or suspicious sources, and the UK is the EU’s second-largest importer of illegal timber.
But illegal logging is still a huge problem. The illegal logs cut each year, if laid end-to-end, would stretch ten times around the Earth (according to a Chatham House report, July 2020).
Tough laws are important in tackling the illegal timber trade, but you can help too, by choosing wood and paper from responsible sources – such as those with the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) logo.