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Cracking down on illegal logging in Indonesia

WASHINGTON — The Forest Service, through the International Programs office, participated in an illegal logging training in Indonesia this November that was led by the United States Department of Justice and Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization. The training was the second in a series of training programs for Indonesians aimed to improve their ability to prosecute illegal logging crimes. The 39 participants included Indonesian judges, investigators, Ministry of Environment and Forestry staff, Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission and the Indonesian Committee to Record Financial Transactions.

Dr. Cady Lancaster, wood identification expert in the International Programs office based at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Forensic Laboratory in Oregon, presented on current and emerging wood identification technologies. Numerous experts from DOJ, Interpol and Indonesian agencies presented on topics including forest crime investigation techniques, asset tracing and recovery, and satellite and DNA technologies for combatting illegal logging.

Illegal logging is a cross-cutting issue with economic, governance, environmental, and humanitarian consequences. It significantly impacts the United States and international forest products industry, has massive environmental impacts, and negatively affects forest dependent communities around the world. As one of the world’s largest international traders in forest products, the U.S. depends on the long-term viability and legitimacy of the forest products market. Interpol estimates that 15 to 30 percent of all globally traded wood has been harvested illegally. This timber can be sold for much less than legally harvested timber, undercutting suppliers who adhere to national and international laws. Estimates suggest that illegal logging depresses worldwide prices from 7 to 16 percent, costing the U.S. forest products industry $1 billion annually due to lost export opportunities and depressed wood prices.

Photo: People standing at a table. A man shows a wood sample to a woman. More wood samples are piled on the table.
Dr. Krisdianto Sugiyanto of the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s Forest Products Research and Development Center shows a wood sample to Dr. Cady Lancaster of the Forest Service during a visit to an Indonesian xylarium. Forest Service photo.