Substantial controversy surrounds what is and is not legal in many timber producing countries. It is not always clear which laws should be considered forest-relevant. Illegal logging could be defined as breaking of laws on cutting, processing and transporting timber or wood products. Generally though, illegal logging can be considered a process consisting of the following steps: illegal activities pre-logging (getting permits), illegal logging, illegal transportation and illegal processing.
The magnitude of the problem has prompted governments, with the help of international and non-governmental organizations as well as the private sector, to step up their analysis of the socio-economic causes and consequences of illegal logging. Therefore there are several international political processes which address illegal logging: The “Proposal for an EU Action Plan for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (EU FLEGT)”, the “G8 Action Programme on Forest”, the “Forest Law Enforcement and Governance East Asia Ministerial Conference”, the ENPI FLEG Program “Improving Forest Laue Enforcement and Governance in the European Neighborhood Policy East Countries and Russia and the “Africa Forest Law Enforcement and Governance Ministerial Conference (AFLEG)”.
In the FOREST EUROPE process, in the Vienna Resolution 2 – Enhancing Economic Viability of Sustainable Forest Management in Europe – the Signatory States and the European Community commit themselves to adjusting policy and legal frameworks and instruments to support sound enabling conditions for sustainable forest management that encourage investment and economic activity in the forest sector, including effective measures for forest law enforcement and for combating illegal harvesting of forest products and related trade. In this context a workshop on combating Illegal Harvesting of Forest Products and Related Trade in Europe was held in Madrid, Spain, in 2005.
In the Oslo Ministerial Decision: European Forests 2020, paragraph 24 c, the ministers commit themselves by 2020 to have taken effective measures at regional, sub-regional and national levels to eliminate illegal logging and associated trade, and to this end:
“FOREST EUROPE will further strengthen efforts for good governance and forest law enforcement, inter alia by cooperating to ensure that timber traded within or into FOREST EUROPE signatories derives from legally harvested forests, and by facilitating the exchange of lessons learned.”