Project LEAF Takes Aim at Illegal Logging
Interpol has teamed up with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to launch Project LEAF (Law Enforcement Assistance for Forests), an initiative dedicated to combating forestry crime, illegal logging and timber trafficking that was launched on World Environment Day.
Project LEAF, which is funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), is an innovative, international response representing the first time that organizations of this stature have joined forces against this organized, sophisticated and trans-national crime.
Nearly 1.6 billion people – more than a quarter of the world’s population – rely on forests for their fuel, food, and medicines, along with the great apes and other wildlife that inhabit those areas. But sophisticated syndicates are illegally extracting the world timber from forests in Asia, Africa and South America at a devastating pace.
Corruption, violence and even murder tied to illegal logging can also affect a country’s stability and security.
Rainforests in Asia that are home to orangutans and African forests that host chimpanzees, gorillas and bonobos are some of the most heavily harvested regions of all.
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.
“In 2010, INTERPOL received at its General Assembly in Qatar a unanimous mandate from its member countries to expand its response to environmental crime worldwide,” said David Higgins, INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme manager. “Project LEAF represents INTERPOL’s commitment to this mandate and to ensuring the safety and security of communities.”
INTERPOL and UNEP are uniquely placed to bring new tools and experiences to the global law enforcement fight against illegal loggers and ensure a truly international net closes around these criminals dedicated to environmental exploitation and destruction.
For more information, visit Interpol.