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Illegal logging: a $15bn-a-year industry

But the "dirty money" can be tracked and confiscated, says the World Bank

In a new report, the World Bank has called for nations across the world to fight illegal logging through their respective justice systems and confiscate its profits – which amount to $10–15bn a year. This money is untaxed and, according to the bank, is used to pay corrupt government officials at all levels.

The report, titled Justice for Forests, estimates that the illegal operations – mostly controlled by organised crime – account for as much as 90 per cent of all logging in some countries. This affects the livelihoods of rural people and vastly contributes to spiralling carbon emissions.

Jean Pesme, manager of the World Bank’s financial market integrity team, said:

We need to fight organised crime in illegal logging the way we go after gangsters selling drugs or racketeering.

The report, which provides policy recommendations for integrating illegal logging into countries’ criminal justice strategies, also expresses concerns that a large number of the crimes go undetected and unreported, despite proof showing that they are part of a global epidemic.

Magda Lovei, sector manager at the World Bank, said:

Preventive actions against illegal logging are critical. We also know that they are insufficient. When implemented, the recommendations of this publication can have a strong deterrent effect that has been missing in many actions taken against illegal loggers.