HomeNewsBriefReport Sheds Light on How Illegal Timber is 'Laundered' in Brazil
BRIEF

Report Sheds Light on How Illegal Timber is 'Laundered' in Brazil

BRAZIL / 15 MAY 2014 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

A new Greenpeace report exposes the web of corruption behind illegal deforestation in Brazil, unraveling some of the details behind an illicit trade that threatens environmental catastrophe as it decimates the Amazon rainforest.

According to the report (pdf), 78 percent of logging that occurred in the north-central Brazilian state of Para between August 2011 and July 2012 was unauthorized. Using satellite imagery, the organization detected 12 points around the Amazonian city of Santarem where illegal logging appeared to be occurring.

Based on a two year investigation in Para, the organization found that state controls are exploited by wood traffickers in five principal ways, allowing "dirty" wood to obtain legitimate documents before exportation. Manners of "laundering" wood include forest management officials inflating the inventory of existing species in order to allow for more cutting, and authorizing areas for harvesting that never occurs, in order to generate credits later used for illegally logged timber. Meanwhile, large timber companies may apply for more logging credits than they need, and sell these off to others who use them for illegal harvesting.

The organization cites the United States, Europe and Israel as the top buyers of Brazilian wood, and particularly the valuable tropical species "ipe." There are signs of some companies purchasing illegally harvested timber, including the United Kingdom building supply chain Jewson, the Guardian reported.

Greenpeace has sent a formal complaint to the federal Public Ministry and the Para Attorney General's Office, requesting they address this phenomenon, which has "serious consequences for biodiversity."

InSight Crime Analysis

Deforestation rates in Brazil's Amazon fell from 2004 to 2012, but have been climbing again since then, according to the country's Environmental Ministry. Illegal logging is the key driver of this destruction, though ranching and illegal mining are also contributors.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Eco Trafficking

Greenpeace's report serves to highlight the corruption that helps facilitate the trade -- the ability to exploit controls and obtain official documents indicates the loggers and the export companies they serve have important contacts on the inside, which likely go beyond forest management officials.

The level of influence landowners and loggers have in the Amazon is also seen in the fact Brazil is the world's most dangerous country for environmental activists, with 448 killings in the past decade and the majority of those responsible walking free. Political elites and powerful business interests are believed to have connections to some of these cases.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CHINA AND CRIME / 4 APR 2022

A string of seizures highlights Panama's important role in international timber trafficking. The country’s strategic position and the presence of…

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 3 MAR 2021

Latin America’s forests are being cut down at an accelerating rate. Asian markets are driving a trade in wildlife products,…

BRAZIL / 14 DEC 2020

It was a Tuesday night, January 14, 2020, after “free time” when prison authorities found his body.

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…