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Stolen Forests: Uncovering Colombia’s Illegal Timber Trade

COLOMBIA / 21 MAR 2021 BY INSIGHT CRIME EN

More than half of Colombia is covered in forests, but illegal logging is contributing to the decimation of the country’s woodlands.

InSight Crime has teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to investigate the criminal activities driving deforestation, forest degradation and biodiversity loss in Colombia. The project — titled “Transparent Governance of Natural Resources” and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) — explored the root causes of the illegal harvesting of timber in the Amazon and Pacific regions.

Also partnering on the project are Transparency for Colombia (Transparencia por Colombia), a branch of Transparency International, and the Foundation for Conservation and Sustainable Development (Fundación para la Conservación y el Desarrollo Sostenible – FCDS), a conservation organization focused on Colombia’s Amazon region.

SEE ALSO: How Colombia Regulators Became Purveyors of Illegal Wood

The sheer size of Colombia’s forests makes it difficult to combat the timber trade. Criminal networks oversee the illegal extraction, transportation, and trafficking of protected species of wood to thriving international markets. Illegal logging contributes to 10 percent of deforestation in the country, according to Colombia’s Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (Instituto de Hidrología, Meteorología y Estudios Ambientales – IDEAM).

Corruption facilitates every step of the process: from falsifying documents to ensure the timber’s smooth transit, to laundering illegally sourced wood for legal resale. As a result, it is often highly difficult to determine whether legally commercialized wood came from a licit source or not.

This video looks at how illegal logging in Colombia’s Amazon and Pacific regions has been feeding a lucrative global market for illicitly sourced timber. It explores the methods used by criminal groups and explains what can be done to help stop the destruction of Colombia’s forests.

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