problem. A huge 80% of the world’s forests have already been destroyed, and what is left is under dire threats from deforestation[sc:1]. Forests are being cleared at an ever increasing rate, either to harvest the timber or to make way for plantations of soy, oil palm, and many other crops. Although better rules and regulations are beginning to reduce the impacts of illegal logging, it still causes huge economic and social losses. In tropical third world countries in Central Africa, the Amazon Basin, and Southeast Asia, it is estimated that between 50 and 90% of forestry activities are illegal[sc:2]. The negative effects of illegal logging are numerous and include economic, environmental, and social problems.
- Biodiversity loss
- Climate change and pollution
Recent studies give even worse news, as they suggest that removing large areas of forest may impact climates worldwide. For example, some models suggest that deforestation in the Amazon Basin could reduce rainfall over the US Midwest and northeast China, while increasing rainfall in eastern Africa and northern Europe. Forests cool the air around them and once they are gone, air current patterns will change, impacting climates worldwide[sc:5].
- Lower standard of living for indigenous populations
- Loss of revenue for governments
It is clear that illegal logging impacts not only the country where it is happening, but the entire world. While it may seem that we are free from the direct impacts, there are flow-on environmental, climatic, and economic problems which will hurt us for decades to come. Everyone has the responsibility to ensure they aren’t supporting this terrible environmental crime by making sure that they only purchase products which come from a known sustainable source.