Rosander (2008), states that illegal logging is linked to corruption and organized crime; it fuels poverty and restricts access to natural resources. In addition, it has economical, social and ecological impacts (Lawson & MacFaul 2010; Li et al. 2008; Rosander 2008; Sheikh 2008; World Bank 2008). The World Bank (2006) estimates that in developing countries illegal logging causes an annual loss of more than US$ 15 billion and is responsible for lowering wood products prices (up to 16% on certain products) globally (Lawson 2007) and constitutes 10% of the global timber trade (RIIA 2003). Some argue that weak law enforcement benefits the poor as they can make use of the forestry resources without paying due taxes (World Bank 2006). On the other hand many rich and powerful individuals are involved in illegal logging activities and usually employ the rural poor who gain marginal benefits (World Bank 2006) and are usually the ones caught and jailed.

Illegal logging has become an issue of global concern. It is estimated that 80% of timber harvested in Bolivia is illegal, while in Brazil 80% and in Columbia 42% of all timber has an illegal origin (Guertin 2003). For Central American countries such as Honduras and Nicaragua, the Forest Integrity Network (2003) reports an annual net loss of US$12-18 and US$8-12 million respectively, as a consequence of illegal logging. While the LMB Daily (2003) states that Indonesia is losing an estimated US$600 million annually to illegal logging. In the US, illegal logging in national forests represents a loss of at least US$1 billion (FIN 2003).

Illegal logging has ecological impacts (Lawson & MacFaul 2010; Sheikh 2008). Some direct impacts include the loss of biodiversity (in many cases depletion of wild animal populations that depend on ecosystems being logged) and if this occurs within protected areas, such as the case of the Chiquibul Forest, important biological and ecological functions are altered (Lawson & MacFaul 2010). Since illegal logging is carried out with no regard of protecting the ecological integrity of the system, it leads to many collateral damages including damage to other tree species, decrease in the amount of standing seed trees (reducing seed banks, which is directly linked to reduction of targeted species natural regeneration ability), deforestation (Rosander 2008), increase in the risk of forest fires and lowers the potential for sustainable harvesting of timber species (Lawson & MacFaul 2010), which may also lead to soil erosion and sedimentation, leading to effects of water pollution.


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