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In many countries illegal logging now accounts for more than 50 per cent of timber. Once cut, illegal logs feed an insatiable demand for exotic hardwoods in developed and developing countries. The result has been an enormous loss of both revenue and biodiversity, and consequently the issue has risen to the top of the global forest policy agenda as one of the major threats to forests, and donors and national governments are starting to develop initiatives to ‘combat’ illegal logging.
Yet for such a massive illegal trade, there is surprisingly limited knowledge available as to the major causes of illegal logging and its impacts on biodiversity, people and livelihoods and national economies, and thus plenty of speculation and action without evidence. It is clear that while illegal logging does have negative impacts, it also, controversially, and perhaps paradoxically, benefits many stakeholders, including local communities who have been marginalized by unjust forest policies. While there are clearly no easy answers, this book sorts fact from fiction and explores the many dimensions of the causes, impacts and implications for forests, people, livelihoods and forest policy.