Illegal logging is one of the main causes of deforestation and causes considerable environmental damage and biodiversity loss. It has serious implications for climate change, often ignores the rights of indigenous people, and make forests more vulnerable to fires.
Illegal logging is the harvest, transportation, purchase or sale of timber in violation of laws. The harvesting procedure itself may be illegal, including using corrupt means to gain access to forests; extraction without permission or from a protected area; the cutting of protected species; or the extraction of timber in excess of agreed limits.
According to OSCE, illegal logging imoves around 150 billion USD annually. It is estimated that illegal logging in public lands alone causes losses in assets and revenue in excess of 10 billion USD annually.
A significant proportion of timber from certain countries currently sold in the EU is thought to come from illegal sources.
Illegal logging contributes to deforestation and by extension global warming, causes loss of biodiversity and undermines the rule of law. These illegal activities undermine responsible forest management, encourage corruption and tax evasion and reduce the income of the producer countries, further limiting the resources producer countries can invest in sustainable development. Illegal logging has serious economic and social implications for the poor and disadvantaged. Furthermore, the illegal trade of forest resources undermines international security, and is frequently associated with corruption, money laundering, organized crime, human rights abuses and, in some cases, violent conflict. In the forestry sector, cheap imports of illegal timber and forest products, together with the non-compliance of some economic players with basic social and environmental standards, destabilise international market
With illegal and destructive logging, food supplies are gone and sacred sights are damaged. Rivers and streams become muddied and polluted, killing local reefs and fish stocks. People suffer violence and abuse. New diseases spread and the medicines, which once protected people from illness, are lost. The traditional ceremonies, skills and way of life are disrupted. Communities' subsistence lifestyle supported by the forest for thousands of years turns to poverty overnight.