Wildlife and forest crime

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The Challenge:

Once an emerging threat, wildlife and forest crime today has transformed into one of the largest transnational organized criminal activities in the East Asia and Pacific region, generating an estimated USD 19.5 billion annually - almost one quarter of the nearly USD 90 billion earned per year in the region by transnational organized crime. Of this, the illegal harvesting and trafficking of timber alone is worth approximately USD 17 billion per year, making it the second highest value illicit commodity in the region.

Unlike other illicit commodities, the illegal trade of wildlife and timber products is often embedded in the legitimate trade, making it difficult to detect. It frequently converges with other serious crimes, and is fuelled by corruption, fraud, lax regulation and poor law enforcement.

Too often, law enforcement efforts within the region target low-level offenders, leaving high-level criminal entrepreneurs and their networks unharmed and profitable. Little use is made of financial intelligence or anti-money laundering systems to map and disable trafficking networks. Penalties for environmental crimes are often weak, and legal frameworks require reform in many jurisdictions in the region. Underpinning it all, high levels of corruption greatly facilitate the illegal trade of wildlife and timber, disabling investigations and prosecutions, and posing a serious threat to national governance.

What we do:

UNODC works with legal systems and law enforcement agencies of Member States to:
  1. Strengthen policy, legislative and regulatory frameworks;
  2. Enhance knowledge and skills to investigate and prosecute related criminal activities;
  3. Increase awareness regarding the nature and scale of wildlife and forest crimes; and
  4. Enhance cooperation on a bilateral and regional level.


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Find out how UNODC works with Member States to strengthen their legal systems and capacities of law enforcement agencies to combat environmental crimes. [Read more]

global programme

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Learn more about our Global Programme on Crimes that Affect the Environment. [Read more]


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Click here to access our latest publications, reports, research and other updates on our work on combatting environmental crime. [Read more]


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Click here to access our latest multimedia and other updates on our work on combatting environmental crime. [Read more]