There has been increasing recognition of the role of forests in global climate processes and their contribution towards sustainable development and green growth.
International policy discussions about forests have broadened over the last few decades, from a primary focus on their value as a source of timber – and consequent concerns about the impacts of logging activities on biodiversity – to also include a wider range of environmental and social values. Thus, there has been increasing recognition of the role of forests in global climate processes and their contribution towards sustainable development and green growth. In parallel with this, there has been a shift from a more technical approach focused on the conservation and sustainable management of forests, towards a more political approach aimed at improving governance of the sector as a whole. This has included the emergence of a range of initiatives and policies focused on illegal logging, these seeking to improve weak legal and institutional frameworks, and to tackle corruption and inequity in the sector.
Chatham House has been working on issues related to forest governance, illegal logging and deforestation since 2000, undertaking research and hosting expert meetings and international conferences. It also hosts the Illegal Logging Portal, a website with the latest news, publications and events related to this issue.
Much of our work is focused on efforts to tackle the international trade in illegal timber. This currently includes research into implementation of the EU Timber Regulation and the effectiveness of global and national responses to tackling illegal logging and trade, through the ‘Indicators of illegal logging project’.
This project, which began in 2006, measures the nature and extent of illegal logging and the associated trade in illegal timber, and the effectiveness of the response by both the government and the private sector in a number of producer, processing and consumer countries. The first phase of the project measured progress in twelve countries. The second phase of the project has conducted a re-assessment of these countries as well as seven additional countries. The findings and dataset for this project are to be made available through a dedicated website.
In recent years, in response to the growing impact of other sectors on forests, our research has broadened to explore the interface between forestry and other land-uses, and the policy nexus between illegal logging, deforestation, sustainable development and green growth. Current research includes exploration of the applicability of experiences with tackling the trade in illegal timber for efforts to reduce deforestation associated with agricultural commodities, and an assessment of the impact of mining on forests.