Forest governance

Corruption can negatively affect climate and contribute to global warming through the pursuit of personal profit over sustainable production. One of the leading causes of global warming is deforestation and forest degradation.

The link between corruption and deforestation has been almost universally recognised. Corruption within and around the forest sector undermines design, implementation and subsequent monitoring of policies aimed at conserving forest cover, while also jeopardising development goals and poverty alleviation in many countries.

The World Bank estimates that up to US$23 billion worth of wood is illegally cut each year, which results in lost revenue of US$10 billion. In some countries, 90% of all logging activities are illegal. As most of these forests are in the developing world, it robs these societies of precious revenue, thwarting development goals and keeping people in poverty. Therefore, besides deforestation, illegal logging undermines the rights of forest-dependent communities and fuels violence and conflict.

Current development aid programmes, aiming to tackle illegal logging and improve forest governance, do not adequately address the corruption challenges. Indeed, they can perpetuate corruption by partnering with corrupt companies, officials and politicians at the root of the problem. Without understanding the role of corruption in the sector and strengthening measures to tackle it, programmes aimed to improve forest governance are unlikely to succeed.

The European Union is a key consumer market for tropical timber coming from countries with high levels of corruption in fragile and/or conflict affected countries, and has bilateral agreements in place with many of these timber producing countries. Therefore, the EU is uniquely placed to promote and pursue fundamental reforms to tackle corruption in partnership with these countries.