Justice for Forests-Improving Criminal Justice Efforts to Combat Illegal Logging

Every two seconds, across the world, an area of forest the size of a football field is clear-cut by illegal loggers.  In some countries, up to 90 percent of all the logging taking place is illegal. Estimates suggest that this criminal activity generates approximately US$10–15 billion annually worldwide—funds that are unregulated, untaxed, and often remain in the hands of organized criminal gangs. While prevention is an essential part of enforcement efforts to tackle illegal logging, it has not halted the rapid disappearance of the world’s old-growth trees. New ideas and strategies are needed to preserve what is left of forests. This paper suggests that current practice be combined with a more targeted, punitive approach, through more effective use of the criminal justice system.