Saturday, September 29, 2012

Organised crime behind up to 90 percent of tropical deforestation - report

Thin Lei Win in AlertNet: Organised crime trade worth billions of dollars is responsible for 50 to 90 percent of illegal logging in parts of the Amazon basin, Central Africa and Southeast Asia, with implications for deforestation, climate change and the well-being of indigenous people, said a report released Thursday.

“Green Carbon: Black Trade,” by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and INTERPOL, said illegal logging is now worth $30 to $100 billion annually and accounts for 15 to 30 percent of the overall timber trade.

Most wood products with illegal origin are destined for China, while Japan, the EU and the United States are also primary importers. “Illegal logging is not on the decline, rather it is becoming more advanced as cartels become better organised,” said the heads of UNEP and INTERPOL in the report’s preface.

Conflict, corruption, decentralised government structures and weak environmental laws fuel the practice, with criminal groups combining old-fashioned tactics such as bribes with high-tech methods including hacking government websites to obtain permits, said the report.

“Murder, violence, threats and atrocities against indigenous forest-living peoples,” also are problems associated with the trade, the report said.

Criminals are using an increasingly sophisticated range of tactics, the report said, from laundering illegal logs through a web of palm oil plantations and saw mills, to shifting activities between regions and countries to avoid local and international policing efforts....

Jungle burned for agriculture in southern Mexico. Shot by Jami Dwyer, Wikimedia Commons, public domain

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