Stopping Illegal Logging
Why It Matters
Enormous amounts of carbon are released when trees are harvested illegally. Forest trees and other plants soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it away as they grow and thrive. Tropical forests alone hold more than 210 gigatons of carbon, seven times the amount emitted each year by human activities.
Habitat for wildlife—including tigers, jaguars and gorillas—is threatened. Eighty percent of the world’s known terrestrial plant and animal species can be found in forests, and tropical rainforests are home to more species than any other terrestrial habitat. A square kilometer of forest may be home to more than 1,000 species.
Illegal logging takes a toll on people. Many lose their livelihoods and source of income when illegal logging occurs. Some have died or been threatened trying to expel illegal loggers from forests.
The global illegal timber trade, which is estimated by the United Nations at between $30 billion and $100 billion annually, robs developing countries of tax revenue and lowers the market price of timber from companies that follow the law. In the US, for example, the wood products industry loses as much as $1 billion annually from illegal logging.