Prevalence of illegal harvesting practices

You should Investigate the level of risk of illegal harvesting in a particular country and also whether it could be illegal in the sense that it is against applicable legislation in the country of harvest - this should be part of your risk assessment.

Assessing risk
If there is known to be little possibility of illegal harvesting taking place at the forest source, then the risk may be termed low. If however there are indications that within a particular country or area for example, that a notable percentage of timber is estimated to be from illegal sources then the risk would be high.

To define low risk there should be robust forest governance and typically this would cover:

  • The existence of forestry legislation
  • Clear legal use rights for forest areas
  • Evidence that the law is effectively enforced (e.g. evidence that prosecutions are carried out)
  • No substantive claims of corruption against local, regional or national forestry officials

Correspondingly, forest sources may be considered high risk if:

  • The country of origin has forest sector laws that are unclear or conflicting
  • The country of origin has a reported significant incidence of illegal practices in the forest sector, or where is a significant level of trade with countries where illegal practices are reported as likely
  • The country of origin is currently or has recently been politically unstable
  • Political instability includes civil war, military coups, failures in democratic elections, areas with guerrilla conflict and areas only recognised by some governments
  • The country of origin has substantive claims of corruption against local, regional or national forestry officials. The reliability of official documentation can therefore be very low

Operators therefore need to be aware of all issues that affect a country’s ability to manage its legal timber supply chain and there are several useful sources:

Chatham House illegal logging

The Transparency Organisation
Corruption index by country and by topic (forestry)
Note: PEFC when assessing risk use this index  - to quote its International Standard -'The actual corruption perception index (CPI) of the country presented by Transparency International (TI) is lower than 5.0' AND 'On the provision of sufficient evidence that the TI CPI does not reflect the level of corruption in the forest based sector in a specific country scoring less than 5.0, the PEFC Council may make a different determination for this indicator'.

Global Forest Registry

WWF illegal logging tool

EIA International forest loss

Eldis country and regional profiles

You need to record the source of information used to define country as neglible risk of illegal harvest

Where the prevalence of illegal logging in the country of origin, including region or concession of harvest, is suspected, in order to satisfy the risk mitigation requirements you may have to look at gaining third party verification to look at chain of custody and the material is traceable throughout the supply chain. See mandatory and voluntary schemes.

See also country of harvest.

REGULATION (EU) No 995/2010 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL - laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market

Article 2h:

‘applicable legislation’ means the legislation in force in the country of harvest covering the following matters:

  • rights to harvest timber within legally gazetted boundaries
  • payments for harvest rights and timber including duties related to timber harvesting
  • timber harvesting, including environmental and forest legislation including forest management and biodiversity conservation, where directly related to timber harvesting
  • third parties’ legal rights concerning use and tenure that are affected by timber harvesting, and
  • trade and customs, in so far as the forest sector is concerned

    See also: WWF Countries Where Illegal Harvesting Takes Place