A Poison, Not a Cure; The Campaign to Ban Trade in Illegally Logged Timber

May 2011 – A World Growth Study

Environmental groups, such as WWF and Greenpeace, have a global goal of halting commercial forestry and forestry in native forests. One of their strategies to advance this campaign is to generate global concern that illegal logging is a major global problem. One presumption is that high volumes of illegally-sourced wood products are entering the global market. This presumption cannot be substantiated and is very likely to be untrue. The campaign urges trade bans on imports of illegal timber. It has also been driven by industrialized countries, in particular the UK. The campaign is also supported by protectionist interests in the timber and paper industry in the U.S., the EU and Australia, with the aim of limiting imports of more competitive products from developing countries. This report examines the incidence of illegal logging and the international use of trade restrictions as a form of environmental protection. It argues that illegal logging trade bans are contrary to international trade laws and are not justified as their costs likely outweigh any potential benefits.

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