Forests are essential ecosystems. They supply us with goods and services such as: ensuring adequate quantity and quality of water, clean air, and soil conservation. At a regional and global scale, forests have a significant influence on climate and carbon storage. Forests also provide food, medicine, housing, and work to society in general and thousands of local communities and indigenous peoples who depend on them to maintain their lifestyles.

Furthermore, it is important to remember that forests are ecosystems that are home to an extraordinary biodiversity of plants and animals. The conservation and management of forests in a sustainable manner is a priority for South America, whose forested area is 864 million hectares (FAO, 2011). Brazil is one of the five most forest-rich countries in the world, with 13 percent of the global forest area, and the country with the largest expanse of tropical forest. The five countries with the largest forest area in Latin America are Brazil, Peru, Colombia, the Plurinational State of Bolivia and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Despite the fact that South America has large tracts of forest, there has been a decrease of more than half a million hectares per year between 1990 and 2010 (FAO 2011). Part of this loss occurs due to illegal logging happening in the large forested areas of the region.

Illegal logging takes place when timber is harvested in a way that violates the laws that govern the use of forests, either because it is carried out without performing the appropriate procedures, or because the necessary permits are obtained fraudulently.

Although it is recognized that the transformation of forests into areas of crop and livestock production are the main drivers of deforestation, it has been shown that badly managed logging causes significant degradation of the forest. Conversely, well planned logging within a framework of good management, minimizes damage and negative consequences on the forest and may even increase the cost advantage through more efficient use of these important ecosystems.

This project is financed by the European Union / Este proyecto está financiado por la Unión Europea