Most of us do not know much about illegal logging, what it means, and how it directly affects us. Essentially illegal logging encompasses timber that has been harvested, processed, bought, and sold with no regard to national or sub-national logging laws and restrictions.
Economic Impacts of Illegal Logging
Not only does illegal logging damage the land by leaving gaping holes in national forests, it directly affects communities and companies that depend on the lumber industry. This is due to the significant loss of revenue that is expected from legal logging and manufacturing of lumber. Governments also lose tax and duty revenues that over time threaten their financial structure.
Because these illegal activities eventually decrease the market price of timber, a vicious cycle results in which other loggers lose respect for logging laws and succumb to the same illegal practices.
It is estimated that all of this results in a $460 million loss in the U.S. alone for those in the lumber industry (American Forest & Paper Association). It appears that globally $10 billion annually is lost (American Forest and Paper Association).
Social Impacts of Illegal Logging
This is not only a problem in the United States, but around the globe. Some of the world’s most valuable forests like the Amazon and forests in Russia are continually damaged by illegal logging. Unfortunately, due to poor economic conditions and limited opportunities, illegal logging is often the only way for many of the natives inhabiting the forests to make a living. The increased demand for forest products creates a secret niche that these natives can fill to put food on their tables. This only lasts periodically, as they lose out to the large migrant worker organizations and logging companies once they move in.
Aside from their involvement in this illegal activity, many natives eventually lose their homes because of illegal logging. In many of these remote forest areas there is not documented land ownership by the natives, so they are forced out with no recourse.
Ecological Devastation of Illegal Logging
Illegal logging and deforestation have a major impact on global climate and the greenhouse effect. The masses of trees that make up these enormous forests regulate their local climate and keep things in check by reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide emission.
Furthermore, research is showing that deforestation in Africa and Asia has a significant impact on climate and weather here in the U.S. (Greentumble, 2016). Atmospheric changes cause alterations in seasonal weather patterns that have a domino effect. Therefore, we all need to be concerned and aware because this is not an isolated problem.
When illegal logging occurs and the tactics for forest preservation cannot be implemented, these forests do not regrow to their full potential reducing the forest canopy and forever changing temperatures and climates around the world.
Stewardship instead of Illegal Logging
There are several organizations that work to prevent illegal logging and deforestation. These groups help not only support the forests and the human inhabitants, but the wildlife too. When these forests are ravaged, animals are run out and their food sources destroyed. With no where else to go many species go extinct.
Everyone can help prevent these devastating acts starting in your own community. As consumers we can make sure that we are purchasing legal forest products from reputable companies. Check out the groups that have chapters in your neighborhood.
American Forest & Paper Association Illegal Logging.
Greentumble Editorial Team (2016). The negative effects of illegal logging.