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Project Leaf (Law Enforcement Assistance for Forests) is a consortium forests and climate initiative on combating illegal logging and organized forest crime. It is led by the INTERPOL Environmental Crime Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) centre in Norway (UNEP GRID Arendal), with financial support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).

The issues

Living forests are vital to mitigating climate change because they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Deforestation accounts for an estimated 17 per cent of global carbon emissions, greater than from all the world’s air, road, rail and shipping traffic combined.

National and international frameworks exist to protect forests, reduce illegal logging, support sustainable practices and reduce emissions – for example, the international climate finance mechanism known as REDD or REDD+, which is supported by UN and World Bank initiatives.

However, while recent years have seen increased concern for sustainable forestry, around only 8 per cent of the world’s forests are certified as sustainably managed.

It is estimated that illegal logging accounts for 50-90 per cent of the volume of forestry activities in key producer tropical forests, such as those of the Amazon Basin, Central Africa and Southeast Asia, and 15-30 per cent of all wood traded globally. It is also estimated that illegal logging still occurs in many formally protected forests, especially in tropical countries.

Clearly, if left uncontrolled, illegal logging will undo the global community’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. In addition to the environmental damage, the trade in illegally harvested timber is highly lucrative and estimated at least at USD 30 billion annually.

The response

An international, coordinated response is essential in order to combat the organized transnational nature of the criminal groups involved. Otherwise, halting illegal logging in one country will merely result in an increase in another as the demand for illegally logged wood products remains.

Effective compliance and enforcement requires international and national cooperation among the many different law enforcement agencies involved, including police, forest authorities and customs.
Preliminary work under Project Leaf began in November 2011, with the project launched in 2012.

The project’s specific objectives include:

  • Providing an overview and review of the extent, primary geographic locations, routes, causes and structure of networks involved in illegal logging, corruption, fraud, laundering and smuggling of wood products;
  • Supporting countries in improved enforcement efforts;
  • Providing training and operational support;
  • Developing best practices for combating REDD-related and forest-related corruption.
Project Leaf - news
21 mars 2014

Clear-cut crime scenes: Why the International Day of Forests matters

The International Day of Forests is an important opportunity to remind ourselves of the vital role of forests to the world’s environment, people’s health and the economic well-being of many forest-rich – but cash-poor – countries. It is also an important time to acknowledge the level of forest destruction and the need for the rule of law at this ‘final fr...
26 juillet 2013

INTERPOL member countries continue fight against illegal logging in Latin America

LYON, France – Nearly USD 40 million worth of timber has been seized in follow up investigations as part of INTERPOL’s Operation Lead targeting illegal logging, forest crimes and the criminal networks behind them.Building upon the initial outcomes of the operation, Costa Rica and Venezuela in particular have increased their efforts in the fight against il...
03 mai 2013

Formation INTERPOL sur le thème de la protection des forêts

JAKARTA (Indonésie) – L’amélioration de la collecte, de l’évaluation et de l’échange d’informations et de renseignements est la clé d’une plus grande efficacité de la lutte menée par les services chargés de l’application de la loi contre l’exploitation forestière illégale, le commerce illicite de bois et les autres formes de criminalité forestière dans la...
21 mars 2013

Combating illegal logging key to saving our forests and preventing climate change

Protecting the world’s last remaining natural forests is crucial to global efforts to tackle climate change. There is widespread and growing scientific consensus that it will only be possible to avoid the tipping point when climate change becomes irreversible if we achieve both a reduction in overall industrial emissions of greenhouse gases, and establish...
19 février 2013

Des pays d’Amérique latine participent à la première opération d’INTERPOL contre l’exploitation forestière illégale

LYON (France) – La première opération internationale d’INTERPOL ciblant la criminalité forestière et l’exploitation forestière illégale à grande échelle a abouti à près de 200 arrestations ainsi qu’à la saisie de bois d’une valeur estimée à plusieurs millions de dollars et de quelque 150 véhicules, dans toute l’Amérique latine.L’opération Lead (17 septemb...
27 septembre 2012

Un rapport INTERPOL - PNUE révèle que l’exploitation illégale du bois pourrait rapporter jusqu’à 100 milliards de dollars par an à la criminalité organisée

ROME (Italie) – Un nouveau rapport élaboré par le PNUE (Programme des Nations Unies pour l’environnement ) et INTERPOL évalue entre 30 et 100 milliards de dollars par an les profits tirés par les organisations criminelles du commerce de bois illégal.Ce rapport d’« évaluation rapide des réponses à apporter » intitulé « Carbone vert, marché n...
13 septembre 2012

Les fonctionnaires des services de protection de l’environnement renouent avec leurs racines grâce à une initiative conjointe d’INTERPOL et de la Police fédérale brésilienne

MANAUS (Brésil) – Les techniques de survie dans la jungle et l’utilisation d’outils de traitement de données géographiques ne sont que deux des points abordés dans le cadre de l’initiative de formation Law Enforcement Against Deforestation (LEAD – Les services chargés de l’application de la loi contre la déforestation) dispensée par INTERPOL en collaborat...
05 juin 2012

INTERPOL lance le projet LEAF pour lutter contre l’exploitation forestière illégale dans le monde

LYON (France) – À l’occasion de la Journée mondiale de l’environnement le 5 juin, INTERPOL a annoncé le lancement du projet LEAF (Law Enforcement Assistance for Forests, ou Aide des services chargés de l’application de la loi pour les forêts), une initiative consacrée à la lutte contre tous les aspects de la criminalité forestière, notamment l’exploitatio...