Today is “International Forests Day,” a day to raise awareness of the challenges forests face around the world and in turn our own futures.
Forests are home to about 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity and are under threat, with rates of deforestation at unsustainable levels. A significant piece of this is due to illegal logging carried out by criminal enterprises fuelled and facilitated by corruption. Of all the so called Green Crimes, Illegal logging is likely to generate the most in illicit proceeds. It’s estimated (by Chatham House), that around 30% of the worlds timber production from 9 main tropical forest producer countries is illicit and that nearly 10% of imports into consumer countries are from illegal sources.
The largest consumer and import countries are China, EU and US, Japan & India. The largest producer and export countries are Russia, Canada US, EU, Brazil, Indonesia & Malaysia.
In some tropical forest countries illicit production reaches levels of 50-90%, for example Chatham House believes that illegal logging is endemic in Cameroon approx (65%), Ghana (70%), Rep of Congo (75%) and DRC (90%). The largest 3 countries importing logging from Ghana (according to Chatham House) are from Cameroon, (China, Vietnam, US), from Ghana (China, India, US), from Rep of Congo (Vietnam, France, China) & from DRC (Vietnam, US, China).
Deforestation 2001 - 2018
- Chatham House
Whilst illegal logging rates are some of the highest in Sub Saharan Africa, the region exports only about 3% of the worlds total exports.
Nevertheless, with 25% of Sub Saharan Africa covered by forests and the Congo basin the second largest tropical rainforest in the world, the threat is not simply a conservation or a crime issue, it’s about our futures.
Forests make an enormous contribution to economic development and around 1.6 billion people rely on forests for their livelihoods including 70 million indigenous people. The forest sector contributes an estimate of US$600 billion to the global economy and employs over 54 million people.
Forests are also critical as homes to wildlife and in combatting climate change and managing its impacts.
So today, whilst we all have plenty on our minds, spare a thought for our forests, another species under threat and without which we have no future.