In late-February, Interpol concluded its first-ever international operation against illegal logging, a three-month operation in Central and South America that resulted in the arrest of almost 200 people and the seizure of some $8 million worth of timber. Duncan Brack, an expert on illegal logging at Chatham House, explained the scope of the problem and efforts to curb it in an email interview.
WPR: What is the extent of the problem of illegal logging in terms of problem regions and financial costs?
Duncan Brack: Illegal logging and the international trade in illegally logged timber are major problems for many timber-producing countries, particularly in the developing world. They cause environmental damage, cost governments billions of dollars in lost revenue, promote corruption and undermine the rule of law and good governance; in some cases they have funded armed conflict. They retard sustainable development in some of the poorest countries of the world.