Establishing fair and sustainable forest economies

Lessons learned from tackling illegal logging
Research paper Updated 29 September 2022 Published 28 September 2022 ISBN: 978 1 78413 538 6 DOI: 10.55317/9781784135386
View of a conical hill where exactly half is covered in trees and half is bare.

Dr Thiago Kanashiro Uehara

Former Research Fellow, Environment and Society Programme

Global demand for wood and paper products is increasing rapidly. While decades of work to tackle trade in illegal timber have established legal and sustainable supply chains for timber and wood-based products in many areas, the share of the global market supplied by illegal exports remains significant and the forest sector needs to contribute more effectively to sustainable development and the establishment of resilient land and forest economies.

Improvements in forest policy and governance underpin remarkable progress in some countries. In others, however, institutional and structural obstacles have meant that reforms have been poorly implemented, and illegal practices remain widespread. Efforts at sustainable forest management have been undermined in some producer countries, leading to deforestation together with a loss of revenues and other economic benefits for governments and citizens. Artisanal and small-scale timber producers have often been the hardest hit.

This paper considers the effectiveness of international efforts since 2003 to reduce illegality in supply chains for wood-based products, and the critical importance of cross-sectoral approaches, inclusive and transparent processes, and effective law enforcement. Applied to supply chains for forest risk commodities, inclusive approaches to both implementation and monitoring can help secure the effectiveness of ongoing forest governance reform.