Thursday, July 15, 2010

Major strides seen in halting illegal logging

Hannah Rubenstein in IPS: A comprehensive report, released Thursday by Chatham House, finds that production of illegal timber worldwide has declined by 22 percent since 2002, a trend that is benefiting both communities dependent on tropical forests and the global climate. Sam Lawson, lead author of the report, 'Illegal Logging and Related Trade: Indicators of the Global Response', told IPS that combating illegal logging is of paramount importance.

"Illegal logging is one of the prime drivers of deforestation worldwide," he said, "and deforestation in turn is contributing to climate change and the destruction of livelihoods and the environment of the species that inhabit the forest."

The report focuses on the industry as a whole, from production to processing to consumption, by examining countries involved in each step of the supply chain. Forests in the "producer" countries are harvested for timber (Brazil, Indonesia, Cameroon, Malaysia, and Ghana), which is processed (China and Vietnam), and sold in "consumer" countries (the United States, Britain, Japan, France, and the Netherlands).

According to the report, illegal logging has declined by 50 percent in Cameroon, between 50 and 75 percent in the Brazilian Amazon, and by 75 percent in Indonesia in the last decade. By reducing illegal logging in these three nations, the report estimates that up to 17 million hectares of forest have been saved from degradation - more land than England and Wales combined.

By minimising illegal logging in tropical forests in Cameroon, Brazil, and Indonesia, the report states, the release of up to 14.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide may be prevented—a number equivalent to half of the total amount of carbon dioxide released by human actions each year…

Deforestation in Amazonia, seen from a NASA satellite. The roads in the forest follow a typical "fishbone" pattern

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