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2013 Assessment Findings

The Brazilian government has made slow progress in tackling illegal logging and associate trade since the previous Chatham House assessment in 2010. 

While there is a relatively strong legal framework and some of the world’s most advanced remote monitoring technology is used for monitoring, illegality, corruption and fraud remain widespread in the forest sector. Considerable efforts have been made to improve law enforcement in the sector but these have been hampered by poor coordination between the relevant government agencies and by a lack of resources for enforcement. Both federal- and state-level tracking systems for timber production and transport have been found to be at high risk of fraud, which is enabling the laundering of illegal timber.

At the same time, attempts to involve a range of stakeholders in policy discussions and decision making have stalled. The private sector’s response to illegal logging is perceived to be weak, despite the reasonably high uptake of sustainability certification schemes. Initiatives are under way aimed at promoting a legal and sustainable market for timber within Brazil however, with increased engagement with the private sector.

All in all, the evidence suggests that illegal logging remains a major problem in Brazil’s forest sector.

2010 Assessment Findings

Wood-balance analysis suggested that illegal logging in the Brazilian Amazon declined by 50–75% between 2000 and 2008. The reduction was closely correlated with a similarly dramatic decline in deforestation.

The study showed Brazil had the best relevant laws, policies and regulations of the five producer countries examined. It scored particularly well in the assessment for its sophisticated timber-tracking system, good transparency and well-designed regulations regarding allocation and management of rights to harvest. An independent monitor was in place in Pará, the largest timber-producing state, and there had also been a dramatic increase in enforcement effort across the region.

While good progress had been made, the analysis showed that illegal logging was still a major problem. Key recommendations were that enforcement needed to be improved – data indicated that only 2.5% of fines were being collected. Brazil’s international engagement on the issue was also quite limited compared with other countries and could have been improved. In addition, independent certification and verification of timber production had grown little compared with the other countries assessed.