"Expecting or asking one country to combat illegal logging while at the same time, receiving or importing illegal logs does not support the efforts to combat these forest crimes….In fact, allowing the import and trade of illegal timber products could be considered as an act to assist or even to conduct forest crime."
Muhammed Prakosa, Indonesian Forest Minister, January 2003.
Illegal logging is a huge threat to the world’s last remaining forests, and is particularly widespread in our region.
Illegal logging occurs when the logging of forests takes place in contravention of local laws such as logging in national parks or in areas where no permit is granted. Corruption and extortion might be involved or land could be stolen from traditional landowners.
Illegal logging destroys lives and decimates forests and the habitats of many rare and endangered species. Illegal logging is organised crime with devastating consequences and is most widespread in developing countries.
Illegal logging funding crime and distorting markets
Revenue from illegal logging activities has been used to fund civil wars, organised crime and money laundering, all of which threaten international security.
Illegal logging undermines the trade in legal and well-managed timber by responsible companies, by under-cutting its price and making it less competitive.
The World Bank estimates that illegal logging costs timber producing countries between US$10-15 billion per year in lost revenue, accounting for over a tenth of the total timber trade world-wide, and estimated to be more than US$150 billion a year. This lost revenue is desperately required for much needed public services such as schools and hospitals
Causes of the problem
While corruption, bribery and greed are often at the root of illegal practices in timber producing countries, importing countries like Australia share the responsibility for continuing to import illegal timber at great cost to the environment and forest communities.
Australia imports hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal timber products each year. The Australian Government’s own research estimates that 9% of imported products or over $400m is sold in the country each year. Others suggest the figure is closer to double that.
The most common products that come from illegal logging include outdoor timber furniture and decking as well as plywood and hardwoods used in construction. But even everyday products such as tissues, toilet paper, notepads and diaries could come from an illegal source.
Political action needed
Australians are unknowingly buying timber products from illegal sources every day.
How is this able to happen? Without laws in Australia to ban illegal timber imports, once a logging company operating illegally in a forest such as Indonesia or Papua New Guinea is able to smuggle the timber out, there is nothing to stop its sale onto the Australian market.
Greenpeace has been campaigning for over 10 years for new laws to stop illegal timber products from entering Australia.
In 2009, we formed an alliance with the biggest names in the timber industry and Australia’s leading social justice and environment groups to make sure the government lives up to its promise. Most recently these groups signed a Common Platform to outline the key elements needed in laws to effectively stop illegal timber imports.
Without governments in importing countries like Australia banning and monitoring illegal imports, the problem will persist.
Read more about the alliance
Read the latest news
Take action to stop Australia importing organized crime
Buy Good Wood
To ensure you are not purchasing illegal timber Greenpeace has developed a Good Wood Guide. Good Wood comes from ethical and ecologically sustainable sources. When you choose Good Wood, you support a solution to deforestation and related climate change, you protect unique biodiversity and you help local forest communities find alternatives to poverty and loss of livelihood.