The United Nations and Interpol have joined forces to tackle global forest crimes such as illegal logging and timber trafficking. Working with local enforcement agencies, the partnership hopes that the scheme — known as Project Leaf — will be able to take on some of the biggest problems facing the poorest nations.

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Currently more than a quarter of the world’s population rely on forests for their livelihoods, fuel, food, and medicine. The poorer the people, the greater their dependency, with more than 90% of those living below the dollar-a-day poverty line either fully or partly dependent on forest products for their livelihoods. Corruption and fraud in the forestry sector have undermined the rule of law and confidence in the government, hampering all efforts to tackle poverty amongst the world’s poorest people.

Illegal logging, in particular, is a crime that is causing rapid deforestation and can no longer be regulated or restricted by national boundaries. The criminals responsible for illegal logging are destroying biodiversity, threatening the livelihoods of those reliant on forest resources, and contributing directly to climate change. With corruption, violence, and even murder tied to illegal logging, this type of crime can also affect a country’s stability and security.

David Higgins, Interpol’s Environmental Crime Programme manager, said of the project: “The international legislation to protect forests and curtail illegal logging demonstrates this. Project Leaf will ensure these global laws are supported by global enforcement and that the criminals responsible are brought to justice – no matter their location, movements or resources.”

The scheme is known as ‘Leaf’ stands for Law Enforcement Assistance for Forests. It will see Interpol work with the UN Environment Programme (Unep) and will see funding strangely come from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.

In a statement, Interpol said: “To be truly effective, actions against illegal logging must be coordinated, collaborative and transnational. Crackdowns in one country must be supported by others in order to prevent illegal loggers, who frequently have access to extensive international funding channels in addition to using illicit land, sea and air networks to switch countries and evade detection.”

+ Interpol

Via BBC News

Images: InterpolmikecoghWagner T. Cassimiro “Aranha”