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Background & Methodology

The Chatham House indicators have been developed to monitor levels of illegal logging and the related trade, and to enable an assessment of the effectiveness of efforts to tackle the problem in producer, consumer and processing countries. 

The Indicators

The indicators underlying this project were developed over a number of years, including pilot testing in five countries in 2008-09. They draw on a wide range of data, relating both to levels of illegal logging and to the broader governance environment. Thus, they relate not just to the end goal of reducing illegal logging and trade but also to the earlier phases of the response, such as building awareness and the development and implementation of policies. Together, the data enable a picture to be painted of the risks of illegality in the forest sector and the impact of measures that have been implemented to address this problem.

The Assessment is based on the following indicators:

Attention paid to the issue of illegal logging and the related trade

  • Review of international and domestic media coverage

Government response

  • Assessment of national policy and legal framework (both design and implementation)
  • Analysis of enforcement and forest revenue data
  • Expert perceptions survey evaluating government response

Private-sector response

  • Analysis of data on voluntary legality verification and sustainability certification
  • Analysis of trade data (to assess shifts in trade between ‘sensitive’ and ‘non-sensitive’ markets)
  • Expert perceptions survey on private-sector response

Levels of illegal logging and the related trade

  • Trade data discrepancies
  • Wood-balance analyses
  • Analysis of trade data for both exporting and importing countries
  • Expert perceptions survey on the scale of illegal logging


Geographical coverage

Many countries suffer from illegal logging, and all countries consume at least some illegal timber. The countries included in this assessment were selected on the basis of their relative importance in the world’s forest sector as producers, processors or consumers of wood-based products. In 2013, the nine producer countries accounted for about 10 per cent of global exports of wood-based products (in roundwood equivalent [RWE] volume), while the 10 processing and consumer countries accounted for approximately half of all global imports of wood-based products. 

Time periods

Ideally, all indicators would be assessed for the same time period, but this is not possible in practice. The perceptions surveys and policy assessments measured the situation at the time the research was conducted, but data on production, trade and enforcement data are often only available after several years. For the countries assessed in 2010, the data range from 2006 to 2009, and for those countries assessed in 2013-14, the data range from 2008 to 2013.

Research partners & review process

Chatham House has sought to ensure a range of independent input into the methodological design and analysis of the results. An advisory group of international experts provided guidance during the development of the methodology. Local partner organizations or consultants were commissioned to assist with data collection in the target countries, and the published results were peer reviewed by independent experts, including at least one from each focus country.