Organized crime behind the $100 billion illegal logging industry decimating worldwide forests | The Raw Story
Organised crime is now a big player in illegal logging, which accounts for up to 30 percent of all wood traded globally, the UN and Interpol warned on Thursday.
In the mid-2000s, some tropical countries reported a fall in illicit forest clearance, but this may well have been a mirage, they said.
In fact, criminals laundered profits into tree plantation companies.
They used these as fronts for driving corridors into old forests, plundering trees which they frequently passed off as wood from sustainable sources.
“In many cases a tripling in the volumes of timber ‘originating’ from plantations in the five years following the law enforcement crackdown on illegal logging has come partly from cover operations to criminals to legalise and launder illegal logging operations,” said the report, Green Carbon: Black Trade.
Between 50 to 90 per cent of logging in the Amazon basin, Central Africa and Southeast Asia is illegal, although not all of this is from organised crime, it said.
Globally, illegal logging is worth between $30 and 100 billion (25 and 77.5 billion euros) annually, or between 10 and 30 percent of all timber transactions.
Among examples cited in the report, some 3,000 companies in Brazil are under investigation for “eco-certifying” illegal timber and exporting it abroad.
“In Indonesia, the amount of logs allegedly produced through plantations increased from 3.7 million cubic metres (129 million cubic feet) in 2000 to over 22 million (770 million cu. ft.) in 2008,” it said.
Less than half of these plantations actually existed, investigators believe.
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