According to UK think tank Chatham House, there has been a 25% decrease in illegal logging around the world since 2002, thanks in large part o stricter laws and better enforcement. This is great news, and shows that government policies can work to help solve environmental problems. However, the war is far from being won as 3.5 billion cubic feet of timber was illegally harvested from Brazil, Indonesia, Cameroon, Ghana, and Malaysia in 2008 alone.
Trees provide subsistence opportunities for local peoples and help absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Protecting them is incredibly important in the fight against climate change and in the preservation of biodiversity, not to mention the subsistence strategies of indigenous peoples around the world. Some say that the decrease in illegal logging is related to a smaller supply of trees in the world and less demand from a world crippled by the economic recession. But the numbers show that illegal timber production is reducing in terms of volume as well as percentages of the wood being harvested. Western nations have passed laws prohibiting illegal timber production, but getting those laws through in developing countries is a challenge that still remains. For now, the West should be proud of its role in helping to reduce illegal logging.
- Mitchell Flexo
Photo via Greenpeace