Next time you watch a football or rugby match just imagine an area of forest the size of that pitch disappearing every two seconds due to illegal logging!
Because that is what is happening says Faith Doherty of the Environmental Investigation Agency.
Illegal logging also raises funds that are “unregulated, untaxed and often remain in the hands of organised criminal gangs” says a World Bank report called “Justice for Forests: Improving criminal justice efforts to combat illegal logging”.
The EIA says that despite many years of exposing what is going on as well as naming names there are still many ‘untouchables’ who gut the forests and “…we have yet to see any real justice regarding those who continue to plunder the forests for their own gain”.
In fact says the EIA some decision makers are only in place due to the proceeds of illegal logging.
The EIA name some of those they say are responsible.
Abdul Rasyid and his nephew Sugianto are said to have been involved in illegal logging in Indonesia’s Tanjung Putting National Park as well as the kidnap and assault of EIA and Telapak investigators but neither were found guilty of the offences.
Then there’s Ali Jumba who controlled ramin smuggling in Indonesia but when he was investigated by the police he fled to Singapore and just continues his illegal work from there.
And high ranking police officer in Papua, Marthen Renouw, was under investigation for suspicious bank transactions, which were proved to be from an illegal logging syndicate, says the EIA, but after being charged he was acquitted and the main witness is now on the run.
“As these few examples show, corruption does not just take place in the forests. The judiciary systems of many countries are no longer places where justice is found. Systemic corruption of the police, prosecutors and judges ensure those with sufficient resources can literally get away with it.” Says the EIA “Exposing those behind this crime is as important now as it was 12 years ago.”
And while you’ve been reading this a few more football sized areas of forest have been cleared, damaging the environment for private profit.