The cutting down of timber and trees without specific permits and licensing is illegal on a large scale. Obviously, cutting down a Christmas tree or a tree in your backyard is a different story. This article focuses on the large-scale deforestation of the world’s rainforests for financial gain by organized crime, not sticking to a tradition that originated in Germany in the 16th century.
Organized crime has been around for centuries. From the Italian Mafia to the Eastern European sex traffickers, they make money off the backs of honest folk who they can steal from, extort, murder, or intimidate. While this isn’t news, the way they are currently making their money is: cutting down the rainforest. This goes far beyond the regular trafficking of alcohol during prohibition or the drug trade made famous by the Mexican cartels.
It wasn’t enough for organized crime to simply ruin the lives of a select few that had the incredible misfortune of crossing their paths, they want to destroy the entire world; one tree at a time. What the effects are of organized crime’s attack on the rainforests of the world remain to be seen, but we know it most certainly isn’t a positive impact.
Apart from being illegal, organized crime is robbing our world of precious resources that are meant to sustain life on the planet. Their level of greed and indifference seems to be rising to unprecedented levels. Here are some quick facts:
- About 25% of the world’s rainforests are in Brazil, including the majority of the Amazon rainforest at about 60% or so.
- Indonesia is also a hotbed of illegal activity. In 2008, for example, Indonesia exported 18.6 million more cubic meters of wood than in 2000; the majority from bogus plantations and logged illegally.
- Organized crime likes illegal logging because it’s lucrative and is legal to ship the product lowering the possibility of being caught.
While we can all agree that this is a massive problem, we can’t seem to agree on how to fix it. One of the main issues is that we are just starting to realize this issue as it’s been so well hidden for so long. Organized crime has many effective techniques to hide things. They are used to working with controlled substances that are illegal i.e. drugs, ivory tusks, etc. Therefore, they are experts at manipulating people, information, and reports.
With timber being legal, there is much less to hide. All they need to do is falsify a few documents stating where the timber came from and legally load it on a boat and ship it. They can easily conceal the true identity, if you will, of the timber by bribing officials, forging the documents, or just simply lying and dealing with government agencies that aren’t necessarily up to par on these things. Once the timber arrives at it’s destination, there is no way to confirm or deny where it came from outside of the paperwork, which in this case is correct. At that point, they can do whatever they want with it and sell it legally to churn a profit.
This isn’t just a North American, South American, or Asian problem; this is a world-wide problem. The rainforest also exists heavily in continents like Africa and other areas, and this is something we need to take a closer look at going forward to continue to protect our planet. It’s the only one we have.