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Risk Score
62.1
Risk Profile
Higher Risk
Conflict State
No
Log Export Restriction
Yes
Other Timber Export Restrictions
Yes
Import Regulation
No
Legality Risks Click for details on legality risks

Illegal logging has soared since 2012, particularly in natural forests. In 2020, deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rose to its highest level in more than a decade, and reports indicate that forest clearances in Brazil’s Amazon region rose 17 percent in the first six months of 2021. While Brazil saw dramatic reductions in deforestation and illegal logging in the period between 2000 and 2012 as a result of strong political commitment, conservation measures and enforcement efforts, there have been well publicized concerns about the scale of forest destruction (deforestation and forest degradation caused by logging) in the Amazon over the last few years.

  • Illegal logging is widespread and a high percentage of Brazil’s timber has been reported to be illegal.
  • Illegal logging and land grabbing are highly associated with violent conflicts in rural and indigenous communities, often driven by organized criminal networks.
  • High-value species from natural forests are at an elevated risk for illegal harvest.
  • Fraud and corruption are common and there is a risk that illegal timber is laundered into supply chains for all species.
  • Despite several high-profile enforcement operations that revealed systemic fraud and illegal logging, enforcement is limited in capacity and has been weakened further under the current political administration.
  • There have been widespread reports about the weakening of laws and requirements, some retroactively, applying to timber exported to international markets from Brazil.
  • There is also a high-risk of tax evasion for timber products from Brazil.
  • Interpol and the EU Member States have issued high alert warnings for illegal timber from Brazil.
  • Illegalities related to ownership of land and land conversion are a risk for timber sourced from Brazil. 

Read more by downloading the Brazil Timber Legality Risk Dashboard here.

Latest Updates Click for latest news from Brazil
August 29, 2022
  • Pereira-Phillips murders highlight Amazon violence
  • Police see nexus between drugs, environmental crimes
  • Illegal fishing, logging seen linked to money laundering
  • Indigenous leaders blame weaker controls under Bolsonaro
More...
August 1, 2022
  • Increasing rates of both deforestation and violence in the Brazilian Amazon are being driven by sprawling national and transnational criminal networks, a study shows.
  • Experts say criminal organizations engaged in activities ranging from illegal logging to drug trafficking often threaten and attack environmentalists, Indigenous people, and enforcement agents who attempt to stop them.
  • In 2020, the Brazilian Amazon had the highest murder rate in Brazil, at 29.6 homicides per 100,000 habitants, compared to the national average of 23.9, with the highest rates corresponding to municipalities suffering the most deforestation.
  • Experts say the current government’s systematic dismantling of environmental protections and enforcement agencies has emboldened these criminal organizations, which have now become “well connected, well established and very strong.”
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July 30, 2022

Plans for a road to be paved through the centre of the Amazon rainforest have now been approved in Brazil, increasing fears of deforestation and illegal logging.

Brazil’s environmental authority granted an initial permit for the major highway on Thursday, the minister of infrastructure said.

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July 18, 2022
  • Logging to meet demand for the tropical hardwood ipê coincides with hotspots of illegal deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, the source of 96% of the ipê used worldwide, a report shows.
  • So far this year, the total area of deforestation alerts in the top 20 ipê-harvesting municipalities cover an area an eighth the size of Rio de Janeiro.
  • The logging industry says concessions authorized by the government deliver only 2% of the native wood that reaches the markets; the remainder is potentially tainted with illegality.
  • Experts recommend sweeping measures to address the destruction of the Amazon for this coveted hardwood, including cracking down on deforestation and encouraging the use of alternative woods.
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July 13, 2022
  • Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon broke all records during the first half of 2022.
  • Satellite images taken between January and June show 1,500 square miles of forest destroyed.
  • What makes the statistic more remarkable is that the forest cutting is taking place during the rainy season.
More...
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July 11, 2022

Supermarkets and retailers have been asked to end relationships with soya traders who allegedly continue to buy soya from suppliers contributing to deforestation in Brazil.

It comes as an investigation by campaign group Mighty Earth alleges that suppliers selling to leading soya traders have deforested at least 27,000 hectares (67,000 acres) across 10 farms in the Cerrado region of Brazil since August 2020.

Some of the traders supply the UK, so soya harvested from this land could end up in meat supply chains for major supermarkets and retailers via animal feed given to farm animals.

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July 1, 2022
  • A $200 million loan was granted to Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC), an industrial soy and corn producer, for monoculture work in Brazil’s Cerrado, a grassland biome that has lost nearly 80% of its habitat cover.
  • The loan was granted by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a sister organization of the World Bank that’s tasked with private sector finance in developing countries.
  • Corn, soy and cattle ranching have been connected to a long list of human rights violations, as well as the acceleration of deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.
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June 10, 2022

US and Brazilian authorities are discussing a cooperation to stop illegal trade of timber from the Amazon, as well as other environmental crimes against the rainforest, according to Brazil’s Environment Minister Joaquim Leite.

“We are focused on preventing the illegal international trade of timber that happens in the region,” Leite said in an interview in Los Angeles on Friday, where he’s attending the Summit of the Americas as part of President Jair Bolsonaro’s delegation. “US support is very important.”

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May 31, 2022

A new study has found that Brazil’s environmental enforcement agencies under President Jair Bolsonaro failed to take action in response to nearly all of the deforestation alerts issued for the Amazon region since 2019.

Nearly 98% of Amazon deforestation alerts weren’t investigated during this period, while fines paid by violators also dropped, raising fears among activists that environmental crimes are being encouraged under the current administration.

Environmental agencies at the state level did better, but in the case of Mato Grosso state, Brazil’s breadbasket, still failed to take action in response to more than half of the deforestation that occurred.

In an unexpected move, Bolsonaro on May 24 issued a decree raising the value of fines for falsifying documents to cover up illegal logging and infractions affecting conservation units or their buffer zones, among other measures.

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May 20, 2022

The Brazilian government has announced a plan to work with US entrepreneur Elon Musk to monitor the Amazon rainforest using satellite technology. The move comes amid accelerating deforestation due to illegal logging.

Musk, CEO of US electric car maker Tesla and rocket manufacturer SpaceX, met with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and business leaders in Brazil on Friday.

After the meeting, Bolsonaro said they had started discussing the use of SpaceX’s satellite technology to monitor the Amazon.

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May 4, 2022

President Jair Bolsonaro’s government has responded to less than three percent of deforestation alerts, a sign that “impunity reigns” in the destruction of Brazil’s forests, an environmental monitor said Tuesday.

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May 3, 2022

Two reports expose a global agribusiness giant’s ties to deforestation, human rights abuses and land grabbing in Brazil’s sensitive Cerrado region. Published by Friends of the Earth U.S. and The Network for Social Justice and Human Rights in Brazil, these reports show that Bunge Ltd., one of the world’s largest agribusiness companies, continues to drive deforestation and land grabs in Brazil, despite investor pressure to adopt sustainability measures.

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May 2, 2022

Brazil saw an exponential increase in deaths linked to land disputes in 2021, according to a report published by the country’s Catholic bishops. In 2020, the Brazilian bishops’ conference’s Land Pastoral Commission (CPT) said nine people had died in deaths connected to land disputes; that number shot up to 109 deaths in 2021.

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April 29, 2022

Cattle ranching, responsible for the great majority of deforestation in the Amazon, is pushing the forest to the edge of what scientists warn could be a vast and irreversible dieback that claims much of the biome. Despite agreement that change is necessary to avert disaster, despite attempts at reform, despite the resources of Brazil’s federal government and powerful beef companies, the destruction continues.

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April 8, 2022

The portion of Amazon rainforest impacted by deforestation in the first three months of 2022 was the highest ever recorded, according to a new report by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE). According to the INPE report, published Friday, 941.34 square kilometers (363 square miles) of forest were cleared between January and March this year. That’s the largest amount recorded since the institute began monitoring deforestation rates in 2016. The area cleared is nearly the size of Dallas, Texas.

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April 6, 2022

A group of Brazilian researchers using satellite data to track illegal deforestation are on a mission to hit the people responsible where it hurts – in the pocket. Mapping project MapBiomas is working with state governments, prosecutors and even state-controlled Banco do Brasil to flag illegal land clearances and bring the culprits to account with consequences including fines, lawsuits and loan refusals.

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April 4, 2022

Brazil’s iconic araucaria trees, whose tufted branches also give them the name candelabra tree, are being pushed toward extinction as government agencies continue to ignore or even abet in their logging, experts say. The araucaria (Araucaria angustifolia) is a species native to the cooler and higher-elevation regions of southern Brazil. It can grow to a height of nearly 50 meters (164 feet), and has a distinctive canopy that makes it look like a giant living candelabra. Though it’s been around for some 200 million years, it faces extinction at human hands within the next five decades as its habitat in the ever-dwindling Atlantic Forest continues to be destroyed.

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March 31, 2022

An area of forest larger than England could be cleared by 2050 in one of the best-preserved parts of the Brazilian Amazon, a new report warns. It says the main drivers of deforestation in the Middle Purus region of Amazonas state are illegal logging, neglect by government institutes, and the paving of the BR-319 road. The Middle Purus region is home to two areas where isolated Indigenous people were recently discovered, the Jacareúba-Katawixi Indigenous Territory and the Mamoriá Grande River region, but both have been without formal protection since temporary decrees were allowed to expire last year.

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March 30, 2022

McDonald’s Corp. has ties to deforestation and labor abuses in Brazil’s Pantanal wetlands and in the Amazon rainforest, which plays a crucial role in regulating the world’s climate, according to a report published Wednesday by Reporter Brasil, an independent research group focused on environmental and labor issues

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March 23, 2022

With Brazil grappling with several human rights issues, it is crucial that multinational companies and investors operating in the country are aware of its prevalent human rights challenges and take meaningful action to manage their exposure and prevent harm. Mining (legal and illegal), illegal logging, cattle ranching, and the production of soybeans represent economic activities that are frequently associated with the destruction of indigenous territories and the displacement of indigenous communities, primarily in the Brazilian Amazon.

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March 21, 2022

A Brazilian court found three companies guilty of illegally logging in the Amazon rainforest, fined them US$100,000 each and ordered them to plant 10 hectares with the protected Brazil nut tree, which they were found to have exploited.

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March 14, 2022

Demand for wood from ipê trees in the Amazon Basin could lead to their extinction if better international trade regulations aren’t implemented soon, according to a new report from Forest Trends. Ipê hardwood is in high demand in the luxury timber market, especially for outdoor boardwalks, decks and furniture, as well as hardwood floors.

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March 14, 2022

In the Alto Turiaçu Indigenous Territory in Brazil’s Maranhão state, the Ka’apor people have taken the defense of their land into their own hands following years of neglect and corruption by the state. They have created a self-defense force to retake logging sites and access roads from illegal loggers, and established a network of settlements at each site to make their gains permanent.

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February 22, 2022

Nine mining giants seeking authorisation to mine on Brazil indigenous reservations have been accused of human rights violations and environmental destruction.

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February 22, 2022

Brazil’s notoriously anti-environmental president has issued a decree instituting a program to stimulate “artisanal” gold mining. This mining is not really done by the small-scale individual prospectors that the name implies, but rather as part of operations backed by wealthy entrepreneurs, including politicians and organized crime.

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February 11, 2022

Brazil recorded the most deforestation ever in the Amazon rainforest for the month of January, according to new government data, as the destruction continues to worsen despite the government’s recent pledges to bring it under control. Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon totalled 430sq kilometres (166sq miles) last month, five times higher than January 2021, according to preliminary satellite data from government space research agency Inpe released on Friday.

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February 4, 2022

Reporters traced how endangered Ipê from Brazil’s most deforested state was used in a $7.2-million fraud scheme. The timber was disguised using fake permits created by a man who allegedly transported cocaine for Brazilian gangs, and sold by companies with a long track record of environmental crimes.

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December 28, 2021

Under President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s Amazon deforestation in 2021 surged to the highest level in 15 years, according to official government statistics.

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November 2, 2021

A pandemic turns out to be an opportune time for illegal loggers. A recent report by Brazilian non-governmental organizations found 464,759 hectares (1.15 million acres) were deforested in the Amazon rainforest between 2019 and 2020, an area three times the size of São Paulo. The analysis reveals that logging has reached the untouched core of the Amazon.

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October 25, 2021

Brazil’s government will accelerate its timeline by two to three years to completely eliminate illegal deforestation, Vice President Hamilton Mourão told foreign press reporters on Monday.

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October 14, 2021

For some time now, research has highlighted the significant volume of illegal logging in the Brazilian timber market and its relationship to deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. According to a study carried out in 2020 by the NGO Imazon, close to 70 percent of logging in the northern state of Pará between August 2017 and July 2018 came from illegal sources — taken from areas without State authorization for logging activities.

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September 15, 2021

Satellite imagery shows that logging activity is spreading from peripheral areas of the Amazon toward the rainforest’s core, according to groundbreaking research. The satellite-based mapping of seven of Brazil’s nine Amazonian states showed a “terrifying” pattern of logging advance that cleared an area three times the size of the city of São Paulo between August 2019 and July 2020 alone.

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September 29, 2022
  • New evidence uncovered by a yearlong investigation by Mongabay and Earthsight reveals the corrupt deals made by Brazil’s largest flooring exporter, Indusparquet, and its suppliers.
  • The company was charged in two corruption lawsuits in Brazil over its use of public officials to gain access to timber supplies. Mongabay and Earthsight gained access to dozens of hours of wiretaps and video footage, along with thousands of pages of court records, revealing how the alleged bribery schemes were carried out.
  • One of the court cases showed the company used a local official to secure the supply of bracatinga, a tree species native to the Atlantic Forest, for an unnamed “U.S. client.”
  • We also found indications that the American client was Floor & Decor, America’s largest flooring retail chain, which was previously involved in illegal timber scandals with Indusparquet, while LL Flooring, fined for breaching the Lacey Act in 2013 over its illegal timber exports, is also an Indusparquet client.
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Publications Click for publications related to Brazil
“Ipê,” the trade name for several high-value species in the Handroanthus, Tabebuia, and Roseodendron genera, is critically overexploited and at risk of extinction. Predominantly used in exterior decking and flooring, 85% of the demand for ipê comes from American, Canadian, and European markets. Over the last 30 years, ipê populations have severely declined, with at[…]
While subsistence agriculture and logging still contribute to deforestation, commercial-scale agricultural expansion is now recognized as by far the single largest driver of deforestation worldwide and thus also of greenhouse gas emissions from land-use change. Several initiatives have quantified how much and where deforestation is driven by commercial agriculture, and even how much of this […]
Key Resources
Click here for a collection of Forest Trends publications related to IDAT Risk, including the full set of Timber Legality Risk Country Dashboards.
Methodology
Click here to download the Methodology which includes information on data sources, the methodology used to create risk indicators, and a glossary of key terms.
Timber Data Tool
Click here to access the Global Illegal Logging and Associated Trade (ILAT) Risk assessment tool and to download the Forest Trends User Guide describing the functionality of the ILAT Risk Data Tool.
Export Restrictions
Click here to download a database of forest policy export restrictions.