United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP)

MAIN TOPIC: Tackling illegal deforestation

Committee Mandate:

UNEP's mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.


The world's antiquated timberlands are in crisis. Primarily since deforestation, a staggering 80 percent have as of now been devastated or debased. It is vital we battle against woodland devastation as much of what remains is beneath risk from illicit logging or arrive clearing. Estimated at an annual 100 billion Dollars, the illicit timber industry may be a danger to the world’s woodlands and takes from nearby communities that depend on timberlands for nourishment, wellbeing, and riches. The debasement related to unlawful logging debilitates the run the show of law and fills the cycle of transnational crime.

This leads to degradation of biodiversity and economy by making the land indeed more powerless to deforestation for other employments. The persistently developing demand for items that require an enormous sum of land—including soy, palm oil, and beef—drives tropical deforestation, half of which is illicit. All of this leads to 1.5 gigatons of carbon production on an annual premise.

Illegal logging is having a devastating impact on the world’s forests. Its effects include deforestation, the loss of biodiversity and fueling climate change. This creates social conflict with Indigenous and local populations and leads to violence, crime and human rights abuses. Ancient forests have evolved over thousands of years into unique and vital habitats for millions of plant and animal species. They are also home to millions of people who depend on them for their livelihoods and survival. It is estimated that some 1.6 billion people worldwide depend on forests for their livelihood and 60 million Indigenous peoples depend on forests for their subsistence.

Deforestation or scaling the problem of illegal logging

Between August 2003 and 2004, the deforestation rate for the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical forest, was the second highest ever recorded. An area of 26,130 square kilometers – around the size of Belgium – was destroyed, most of it illegally.

Examples of Illegal Logging Rates in Timber Producing Countries

– In Indonesia it is estimated that up to 90 percent of logging is illegal.

– In the Brazilian Amazon it is estimated that 60-80 percent of logging is illegal.

– In Cameroon 50 percent of logging between 1999-2004 is estimated to have been illegal.

Illegal logging funding crime and distorting markets

Illegal logging profits have been used to fuel civil wars, organized crime, and money laundering, all of which pose a threat to global security. Illegal logging makes it more difficult for responsible enterprises to trade in legal and well-managed timber by lowering the price and making it less competitive.

Illegal logging, according to the World Bank, costs timber-producing countries between $10 and $15 billion per year in lost revenue, accounting for more than a tenth of the global timber trade, which is estimated to be worth more than $150 billion per year. This lost money is critical for public services such as school construction and hospital construction.

Causes of the Problem

Because of poor governance and corruption in timber-producing countries, as well as governments in consumer countries such as the EU, the United States, and Japan failing to prohibit the import of illegally and destructively logged timber, unscrupulous logging companies and timber traders can exploit ancient forests all over the world.

Forest degradation is being fueled by a rise in global demand for timber products, regardless of their legality. The European Union, for example, is a major importer of lumber from areas where illegal and destructive logging is common.

The United States is significantly reliant on foreign agricultural products. Palm oil from all over the world is found in nearly half of all processed foods sold in supermarkets in the United States. Raw rubber and tires made from rubber trees collected in southwest Asia are the most popular imports in America. The United States is also the world's largest importer of cocoa, which comes primarily from Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire. All of these items are sourced from tropical forests.

These items, however, come at a high environmental cost. Palm-driven land harvesting alone accounts for around 1.4 percent of global net carbon dioxide emissions each year, and many of these imported commodities are produced from illegally deforested land.

According to a report published in February by the World Resources Institute, seven commodities accounted for 26% of worldwide forest cover loss between 2001 and 2015: cattle, oil palm, soy, cocoa, rubber, coffee, and plantation wood fiber. This equates to 71.9 million hectares of forest destruction, which is more than twice the size of Montana.

Another important issue is a lack of transparency in markets, which makes it difficult for buyers to determine where their products are sourced. A lack of legislation in this area by various countries is a major contributing factor to the problems we are seeing with illegal deforestation and the potential climatic consequences.

Political action: not enough to prevent forest destruction

Surprisingly, the EU has no legislation in place to prevent the entry of illegal lumber into the EU. FLEGT, the EU Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade, advocates the establishment of rules, which might include prohibiting the import of illegal timber. Until recently, the European Commission has only promoted voluntary action, which many people believe is insufficient to safeguard forests and the people who rely on them for a living. This alone will not suffice to save the trees.

The following topic Areas must be especially focused upon:

  • Effects on global stability.
  • Lack of/ineffective policy making.
  • Additional issues such as transparency that are often regarded as insignificant.
  • Production and industrial effects.


Kristina Horinkova

My name is Kristina, I am 20 years old and I come from Slovakia. During my high school studies, I took part in a national round of Model European Parliament where I got nominated to represent my country in Madrid at the international round. I have also attended MUN in Prague and multiple debate competitions. Throughout, I gained a lot of knowledge in diverse topics, on top of understanding more about how UN or EP works, which is why I am really excited to chair this year and take part in AUCMUN!

Waleed Shahid