Apply Knowledge Globally

Forest crime training for sub-Saharan African professionals

Photo: Don Brown, Beth Hahn and Joseph Augeri stand in front of the glass facade of the International Law Enforcement Academy, Gaborone, Botswana.
Don Brown, Department of State, Regional Environment Officer for Southern Africa; Beth Hahn, Forest Service International Programs; and Joseph Augeri, director of the Gaborone International Law Enforcement Academy, stand at the entrance of the International Law Enforcement Academy, in Gaborone, Botswana. Photo courtesy Ken Fisk.

WASHINGTON, DC—In early April, the Forest Service contributed expertise in combatting illegal logging and trafficking to a week-long course in Environmental Criminal Prosecutions led by the Department of Justice. Several members of International Programs participated in this interagency training, which reflects a strong partnership among the Forest Service, the Department of Justice, and the Department of State to reduce illegal logging globally and work cooperatively with source countries to prevent illegal wood entering the United States. Forest Service participation was funded by the Department of State and coordinated by the International Programs office.

Forest Service special investigator Anne Minden (retired) was an instructor for the course, held at the International Law Enforcement Academy outside of Gaborone, Botswana. Minden served in Washington state during much of her Forest Service career and was involved in many successful timber theft investigations and prosecutions. Instructional topics covered the typology of forest crime and introduced investigation methods to support effective prosecution. Thirty-nine students attended the course, hailing from the countries of Benin, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Madagascar, Namibia, Togo and Zambia. Course participants included a range of professions, including law enforcement, prosecutors and judges.

This effort is part of a global effort by the Forest Service, with funds from the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development, to share our expertise in effective forest crime enforcement, including by working with these global academies in selected regions. Additional ILEAs are located in Budapest, Hungary; Bangkok, Thailand; San Salvador, El Salvador; and, Roswell, New Mexico.

The mission of the academies is to support emerging democracies, help protect U.S. interests through international cooperation, and promote social, political and economic stability by combating crime. To achieve these goals, ILEA provides high-quality training and technical assistance, supports institution building and enforcement capability, and fosters relationships of American law enforcement agencies with their counterparts in each region. International Programs has previously contributed to ILEA courses in Budapest and San Salvador, and is currently collaborating with the Department of Justice to design a full week-long course on illegal logging and trafficking at the ILEA in Botswana later in 2018.

Photo: Forest clearing with tree detritus. Tree stumps and logs are strewn throughout the area.
Bigleaf maple, or Acer macrophyllum, theft site on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington. Forest Service photo by Anne Minden.