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ILLEGAL LOGGING The Issue Illegal forestry activities encompass illegal logging, as- sociated illegal trade, and other forest-related crimes. Despite the legal restrictions many countries have, as well as requirements for sustainable harvesting meth- ods, much of the Earth’s remaining natural forests are being degraded by illegal activity. After harvesting, the logs end up in factories where they are transformed into ﬂooring, furniture and building materials. Demand in the West for these products continues to increase, and consumers often have no idea where the wood comes from—or the ecological damage sometimes associated with it. The problem is a far-reaching one, with negative consequences including environmental degradation, disrupted trade and market access, unsustainable eco- nomic development, and lost revenue for the state and local communities. Increasingly, governments and international organizations are addressing this issue in interna- tional policy forums. This is a promising shift from years past when sensitivity over political and sovereignty concerns mufﬂed serious discussion. The forest policy dialogue has shifted toward improving governance, transparency, monitoring, and suppression of illegal activity. However, combating illegal forestry activities is complex. Challenges include unclear land tenure, lack of capacity to enforce legal bounds of contracts/permits, lack of local law enforce- ment, weak judicial systems, corruption, and weak independent auditing and investigation capacities. There is a growing global acknowledgement that stemming the detrimental environ- mental and economic effects of illegal forestry activities requires signiﬁcant additional action. Tackling Illegal Logging Environmental NGOs have played an important part in raising political awareness of the issue, and they continue to be important actors in monitoring, detecting, and analyzing illegal forestry activities, associated illegal trade, and other forest crimes. Several non-governmental organi- zations are active internationally to promote information collection, transparency, and capac- ity-building. Industry has also been increasingly vocal about the need to combat illegal logging and to ensure sustainable practices are undertaken. Some promising partnerships and efforts are underway in a number of international organizations. The World Bank, the International Tropical Timber Organization, and others have strong initiatives. In the U.S., the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development are leading efforts to implement the President’s Initiative Against Illegal Logging. US Forest Service Efforts The US Forest Service works internationally through its Ofﬁce of International Programs, which coordinates technical coop- eration, policy analysis, and training to improve forest management and governance worldwide. The Ofﬁce partners with governments, NGOs and the private sector in 36 countries. Cooperation speciﬁ- cally focused on illegal logging includes Liberia, Central Africa, Madagascar, Russia, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia. Efforts related to illegal logging have focused on promoting sustainable forestry as an alternative to illegal logging, market mechanisms such as forest certiﬁcation, and community-based management. The USFS also works closely with governments and NGOs to disseminate and make the best use of information and systems already available, and convenes workshops where practitioners can share lessons learned. Speciﬁc examples of US Forest Service efforts include: • The Amazon Basin Forest Transparency Workshop, held September 19-22, 2006 in Lima, Peru, was implemented through a joint effort of the US State Department, the US Agency for In- ternational Development, US Forest Service International Programs, and the International Wood Products Association. Over 100 participants from Amazon Basin countries and the US, Hondu- ras, and Europe met in Lima to explore techniques and approaches for increasing transparency in the forest sector. The workshop brought together multiple stakeholders including government, industry, local and indigenous community forestry groups, non-governmental organizations and other private sector interests to learn from successful approaches to managing forests and for- est products. Workshop information, presentations, and photographs are posted at www.fs.fed.us/global/forest_transparency. • Collaboration with public and private sector partners from both the US and Mexico to provide technical assistance and market linkage support to certiﬁed Mexican community forestry opera- tions in Durango and Oaxaca, Mexico. Through a partnership with the US Agency for Interna- tional Development, national, regional and local authorities, nongovernmental organizations, and partners are working to strengthen all aspects of forest management, from silviculture, to low impact road design and maintenance, to harvesting techniques and wood processing meth- ods that increase efﬁciency. Assistance to communities who are working towards sustainability helps to combat illegal logging by building capacity on the ground and providing opportunities for communities to derive greater beneﬁts - economic, ecological and social - from their forests. Details on the Mexico Program and our projects can be found at: www.fs.fed.us/global/globe/l_america/mexico.htm • Hosting a workshop on forest sector development and trade between Russia and China. As a contribution to the overall ENA FLEG process, Forest Trends, IUCN, USFS, and others will con- duct a workshop to promote resource sustainability and positive returns for local economies and populations in the forest sector development and trade between Russia and China. Participants will come from national and provincial governments, industry, and civil society along the Sino-Russian border. Focus will be on training Russian and Chinese stakeholders in sustainability of forest products trade, and techniques and methodolo- gies to ensure legal and sustainable wood supply chains. Participants will come from Russia and China. Partners include Forest Trends, IUCN, World Bank, Greenpeace, and others. • Helping the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry to put in place a credible and practical log adminis- tration system so that forest products and timber from legal sources are clearly identiﬁable and information is shared with the public. At the same time, the Forest Service is training Indonesian counterparts in methods that increase ﬁeld coor- dination and rapid responses to combat forest crimes. These efforts are supported in part by the US State Department as part of the new Memorandum of Understanding on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade signed in November 2006 between our two countries. Partners in these efforts include the World Resources Institute, Forest Watch Indonesia, The Nature Conservancy and the Center for International Forestry Research. • A four-year program of work in Liberia to assist with a comprehensive restructuring of the for- est sector. The program incorporates policy reform, a new concession system, and a program to develop community based forest management to protect Liberia ’s forests and improve rural livelihoods. To learn more about this program, visit www.fs.fed.us/global/globe/africa/liberia.htm • Hosting a workshop for the Balkan Countries “Tools, Methods and Solutions for Combating Illegal Logging.” In partnership with the US State Department, the US Department of Justice, and the Environmental Protection Agencies, the US Forest Service will be providing a one-week training workshop for mid-level foresters, investigators, and prosecutors focusing on best prac- tices to combat illegal logging and smuggling. The workshop will provide practical tools to assist participating countries in their efforts to comply with relevant multilateral environmental agree- ments, and supports the President’s Initiative against Illegal Logging and Europe and Northern Eurasia Forest Law Enforcement and Governance process. Participants came from Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; Serbia (including Kosovo); Montenegro; Bulgaria; and Hungary. Partnerships and Information Please visit our website for further information: www.fs.fed.us/global/topic/illegal_logging/welcome.htm. If you would like to learn more about our program and/or to discuss possible collaboration with the US Forest Service, please contact our ofﬁce at 202-205-1650.
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