What Is Illegal Logging


Illegal logging is the illegal harvesting, transportation, and processing of wood. It is a problem that affects rainforests all over the world. People who illegally cut down trees harm ecosystems, animal habitats, and the environment as a whole.


Illegal logging in forests happens for many reasons. Here are a few:

what causes illegal logging

Poor Forest Governance

  • As you can see, this is one of the main reasons that people illegally log in most countries around the world. In some places, the rules and regulations that govern how forests can be used aren’t very clear.
  • People don’t follow forest rules because they don’t understand them. In addition, it leads to a lack of responsibility.
  • Rainforests in countries that aren’t rich are the worst hit. The local government doesn’t have enough money to protect forests. This means that illegal loggers can cut down trees without having to face any legal charges.
  • Some of the institutions set up to protect forests are run by people who are corrupt and work with people who illegally cut down trees.

Forest Conversion

  • Forest conversion is the cutting down of a lot of trees to make space for other things. Most agricultural activities in the tropics cause forests to be cut down.
  • Palm oil and soy plantations need a lot of space. To make space, trees have to be cut down. Cattle ranchers also cut down trees to make more meat, and they do the same thing.
  • Areas that used to be covered by trees have been cleared so that mining can take place. Mining not only harms the environment, but it also hurts the biodiversity of rainforests.
  • Most of these things damage the soil. So, the land will stay bare for a long time without regaining its plant cover.

Rural Poverty

  • Rural poverty is one of the main reasons people illegally cut down trees. Many of the world’s rainforests are found in poor countries.
  • The natives use forests for food, fuel, shelter, and other things. They cut trees for firewood all the time, and some people sell the wood.
  • Also, they are often paid by logging companies that cut down trees illegally and then sell them. Companies that illegally log cut down thousands of trees each year but don’t plant any new ones.
  • This leads to a lot of trees being cut down and a lot of damage to the ecosystem.  Overall, the poorer the country where the forest is located the more damage done.

High Demand for Timber Products

  • Wood from illegal logging is sold at a cheaper price. This is because criminals are often in a hurry to find a market for their products.
  • In order to save money, many large companies choose to use illegal wood instead. Unfortunately, this creates more jobs for people in the illegal logging business.
  • Wood is one of the most versatile things in the world. With wood people make things including paper, furniture, and even buildings. Overall, the demand for wood is not going to go down. In fact, the demand for wood is only going to go up. 
  • If nothing is done to stop people from illegally cutting down trees, the world will lose many of its forests.
why is illegal logging a problem


Illegal logging harms the environment both directly and indirectly. Every species on the planet needs trees to stay alive. There will be a lot of ecological problems as the number of trees drops. (Research from Prefered by Nature)

Forest Degradation

  • Unsustainable logging practices harm forests. Illegal loggers don’t care about replanting or taking care of forests.  They only want money. 
  • Even when trees are cut down legally, deforestation happens when new trees are not planted.

Increased Greenhouse Gasses In Earth’s Atmosphere

  • Trees clean the air we breathe by taking in carbon dioxide. This is one of the gasses that cause climate change.
  • Once the carbon dioxide is absorbed, it is broken down into oxygen, which can then be used to breathe. The lack of trees in the environment will cause carbon dioxide to build up in the air, which will harm the environment.

Loss of Biodiversity

  • Forest areas are very important. Rainforests are home to 50% of the world’s plant and animal species.
  • As people cut down the earth’s rainforests hundreds of species will die out. In fact, some species are already extinct or endangered.

Climate Change

  • Illegally cutting down trees not only causes but also speeds up climate change.
  • Illegal logging raises carbon dioxide levels in the air. Carbon dioxide takes in the sun’s rays and sends them back out again, which makes the temperature rise slowly.

Social Impact

  • Illegal logging can result in the displacement of indigenous people and local communities who rely on the forests for their livelihoods. 
  • It can also lead to social conflict and violence, as illegal loggers may operate outside the law and threaten the safety of local people and forest rangers.
illegal logging in the amazon


The Amazon rainforest is the world’s largest tropical rainforest. Over 3 million species live there. (Research from Imazon)

  • Almost all of the logging in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest is illegal. It lost up to 1.15 million acres of forest cover between 2019 and 2020.
  • The main problem is the lack of local police in the places in the Amazon where illegal logging is happening. 
  • Logging a small area of rainforest over and over leads to the loss of tree species.  Additionally, many tree species in those small areas become endangered. 
  • Cattle farming also leads to illegal logging in some parts of the forest.


The Philippines has some of the most amazing forests in the world. Over 17,332,356 acres of the country is forested.

  • In the Philippines, forests are important to the native people. However, many of the people in the country are poor. So, illegal logging is one way some poor people use to make enough money to live. 
  • Some of the forests in the Philippines are protected, but people still illegally cut down trees there.
  • Often illegal loggers will pay off law enforcement officers to look away from their crimes. Then even more damage happens to the forests.


Mexico has both temperate and tropical forests. In fact, 34.5% of Mexico has forest cover, making it a hotspot for illegal logging.

  • Crime gangs do most of the illegal logging in Mexico.  The locals also take part in illegal logging to earn more money.
  • The country has lost 15% of its forest cover because people are illegally cutting down trees. This has led to a loss of biodiversity in some places.


Illegal logging causes tree loss and ecosystem damage.

  • About 50 to 90% of logging in tropical countries is done illegally.
  • Illegal logging is one of the main causes of forest destruction.
  • Poor forest management leads to illegal logging.
  • A lot of wood products in the world come from trees that were illegally cut down.


The illegal cutting down of trees has led to the destruction of forests in different parts of the world. Illegal logging can have a big impact on the ecosystem, biodiversity, and the long-term health of our planet.

We can stop illegal logging by enforcing strict forest laws, encouraging forest stewardship, and buying wood products made from legally sourced wood.

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