The Rise of Environmental Crime

A Growing Threat to Natural Resources, Peace, Development and Security

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The environment provides the very foundation of sustainable development, our health, food security and our economies. Ecosystems provide clean water supply, clean air and secure food and ultimately both physical and mental wellbeing. Natural resources also provide livelihoods, jobs and revenues to governments that can be used for education, health care, development and sustainable business models. The role of the environment is recognized across the internationally agreed seventeen sustainable development goals adopted in 2015. However, the environment as the very foundation of sustainable development, peace and security is now at risk. Environmental crime is vastly expanding and increasingly endangering not only wildlife populations but entire ecosystems, sustainable livelihoods and revenue streams to governments. This publication examines these crimes and its effects, and makes recommendations for efforts to be put forward so that peace and sustainable development can prevail.



Forestry crimes

The involvement of transnational organized crime and advanced laundering is becoming more and more evident, even in forest crimes such as rosewood smuggling, illegal logging, or laundering of illegal tropical timber through “fraud” plantations, laundering the timber through paper mills and palmoil plantation front companies. In some countries as much as 90% of forest are leased as logging concessions. It is estimated that 62–86% of all suspected illegal tropical wood entering the EU and US arrives in the form of paper, pulp or wood chips, not as roundwood or sawnwood or furniture products, which have received the most attention in the past (see UNEP-INTERPOL, 2014). In 2015, WWF-Germany conducted a follow-up fibre- laboratory investigation of paper to verify possible presence of tropical wood in a total of 144 different paper products. Tropical timber was found in almost 20 percent, despite most of the companies having ruled out this possibility, further confirming the patterns reported by UNEP-INTERPOL in 2014.


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