Natural Resource Law Enforcement

The Challenges

Illegal logging is the most profitable natural resource crime, valued at US$52 billion to $157 billion annually (Global Financial Integrity 2017 Transnational Crime and the Developing World). If even a fraction of revenue lost to illegal timber trade could be retrieved and invested in communities and government programs in places particularly hard hit — the Amazon, Central Africa and Southeast Asia — those regions could be exponentially more prosperous, stable, and secure.
Despite institutional reforms in the forestry sector to tackle high deforestation rates and weak revenue capture, the domestic laws and regional protocols are not fully adhered to, and enforcement efforts have proved to be inadequate. For example, during 2013 alone, 93 percent of all logging in Mozambique was illegal (2014 EIA China’s Criminal and Unsustainable Intervention in Mozambique’s Miombo Forests).


The U.S. Forest Service helps authorities in illegal logging hotspots to detect and mitigate environmental crimes, and it supports interagency and regional cooperation to stem the flow of illicit products across borders.

A few of its tools:

  • Workshops like the Cameroon example above — encouraging interagency cooperation, communication, and sharing of best practices, including the latest tools to combat illegal logging.
  • Collaborating with International Law Enforcement, Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security to better address illegal logging and trafficking.
  • Development of tools and technologies for wood identification
  • Natural Resource Law Enforcement Seminar (March 16-30, 2020). Find out more below.

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