Cut Down Illegal Logging!

by Rolf Skar

September 22, 2007

Greenpeace exposes illegal logging in the AmazonAs you read this, chainsaws and bulldozers are laying into huge swaths of ancient forests – illegally – across the globe.  More than a few trees here and there, the growing problem of illegal logging is much more serious than most people realize.

Take Indonesia for example.  Indonesia got itself into the Guinness Book of World Records for the worst forest destruction rate in the history of the world: about 4.5 million acres a year.  80% of that logging, or 3.6 million acres, is thought to be illegal.  That’s enough criminal clearcutting to cover the state of Delaware every year – twice!

With that much dirty logging comes a lot of dirty money that fuels corruption, crime and gang activity.  The brutal dictator of Liberia, Charles Taylor, used illegal logging to fuel paramilitary forces and years of civil war in West Africa.  In Mexico this year, 21 year old Aldo Zamora, who worked to curb illegal logging in Zempoala National Park, was shot dead by criminal loggers.  Where there is illegal logging, you can bet there will be human rights abuses – these sad examples are just the tip of the iceberg.

Illegal logging threatens orangutans with extinction

Of course, wildlife suffers as well. In addition to destroying millions of acres of critical wildlife habitat every year, illegal logging roads bring poaching and illegal hunting of bush-meat into virgin forests.  The endangered orangutan has lost 80% of its forest habitat since the 1980s.  Illegal logging is responsible for much of that loss.  Without action now, orangutans could be extinct in the wild within 20 years.

Forest fires, both accidental and intentional, also accompany illegal logging, destroying habitat, releasing massive amounts of greenhouse gases and threatening the health of those living nearby.

The economic burden of illegal logging is enormous as well.  US jobs are lost as domestic logging companies are robbed of an estimated $1 billion a year due to illegal timber imports.  In developing nations, black-market timber robs local communities as cash flows to gangs and corrupt corporations.

Fires in tropical rainforests threaten wildlife, public health and our climate

The good news is, we have a real chance to do something about illegal logging.  Legislation in both the US House of Representatives and the Senate is poised to set up the first national safeguards against the import of illegal timber.  Isn’t it nice when there’s a light at the end of the tunnel?

Learn more about these bills and take action by clicking here.

With your help, we can put illegal logging in check.  That’s worth a few clicks, right?


Rolf Skar

By Rolf Skar

Rolf Skar is the Campaigns Director at Greenpeace USA. Since 2007, Rolf has contributed to international Greenpeace campaigns to stop deforestation in the Canadian boreal forest, the Paradise forests of Southeast Asia, and the Brazilian Amazon.

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