BOTSWANA – From November 12-16, 2018, the USDA Forest Service coordinated a week-long course on illegal logging and timber trafficking for sub-Saharan professionals from eight countries. The course was held at the International Law Enforcement Academy outside of Gaborone, Botswana (ILEA-Gaborone). This first delivery of a forest crime training at ILEA-Gaborone 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 from entering the U.S. The program was funded by the Department of State with curriculum coordinated by the Forest Service’s International Programs office.
The cadre of instructors and participants was both interagency and interdisciplinary, reflecting the complexity of forest crime issues. Forest Service Patrol Captain Andy Coriell and Special Agent Jeff Sadowski were instructors for the course, along with counterparts from the Environment and Natural Resources Division of DOJ, the Department of Homeland Security and Fish and Wildlife Service. Instructional topics covered the typology of forest crime and investigation methods; coordination between investigators, prosecutors and judges; evidence processing and interviewing; international statutes; international financial investigations; customs and border enforcement; and successful prosecution strategies. Thirty-seven students attended the course, hailing from Botswana, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Namibia, Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Zambia. Course participants included forestry rangers, protected area managers, customs and border patrol officials, law enforcement, prosecutors and magistrates.
This course is part of a global effort by the Forest Service to combat illegal logging and share expertise in effective forest crime enforcement, including through the ILEA network. There are five ILEAs around the world, and International Programs has previously contributed to ILEA courses in Budapest and San Salvador, and future trainings to combat forest crime will be held at ILEA-Gaborone in summer 2019.