What is the Risk that a Timber Product is Illegally Sourced?

Industry, governments and environmental groups are looking for tools to better assess the risk of illegal timber entering into global trade flows and supply chains.  As illicit acts, forest crimes and illegal logging are difficult to monitor and great efforts are taken to hide them. Consistent global data on timber trade flows, let alone flows of illegal timber, are hard to access or do not exist.

This poses challenges for private sector who want to assess the risk of illegal timber entering their supply chains, and government agencies enforcing the growing number of national regulations designed to exclude illegal timber imports.

The Global Illegal Logging and Associated Trade Risk Assessment Tool (ILAT Risk) helps to fill in this information gap. Users can access global timber trade data, and ILAT Risk will also help raise flags on the risk of illegal timber entering a supply chain. ILAT Risk makes publicly available global trade data, as well as key proxies/indicators of risk for 211 countries.

This tool can be used to identify, quantify and categorize flows of timber and pulp & paper products between key producer, processing and consumer countries. The charts contained on the ILAT Risk tabs are interactive, allowing users to apply filters to examine specific trade flows and their potential risk of illegality. Data and charts can be downloaded from this website. We ask that you cite Forest Trends’ ILAT Risk website, as downloaded [date].

Project Methodology

Underlying data sources, methodology used to create risk indicators, and a glossary of key terms is available here.

This approach, using a new methodology to create proxies / indicators of risk, is not an absolute assessment of illegal logging risk for a source country. The analysis can only offer an indication of relative national-level “risk” (based on existing indices of corruption, governance, political and harvest risk) associated with a trading country. This data therefore offers insight into the initial stages of risk assessment, but should not be used in isolation or as an alternative to seeking out detailed location specific assessments of forest crime. Crimes can still occur in countries rated low risk, and there can be legal, sustainable, and/or certified timber produced in countries listed as high risk. All robust due diligence / care systems would need to investigate further.

Data Tool User Guide

A User Guide describing the functionality of the ILAT Risk Data Tool, including how to analyze data across tabs, apply filters, group results together, and download visualizations and underlying data is available here.

This work has been funded by the US Department of State through a grant to Forest Trends and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)

‘Illegal logging,’ defined as the harvesting of timber in contravention of the national laws and regulations of the country of harvest, hurts all efforts to combat climate change and worldwide poverty. Corruption and poor governance, almost always associated with illegal logging and associated trade, undermine economic and social development -- weakening the rule of law and the institutional foundation upon which sustainable economic growth depends