Forty-two percent of the wood bought and sold in Colombia comes from illegally felled trees, a trade worth $60 million a year, Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reported Monday.
According to estimated figures a cubic meter (3.2 square feet) of legally extracted wood can cost $334.64. The same volume of illegally extracted wood does not cost more than $195.80. Much of the timber is extracted unofficially using false permits issued by autonomous organizations and sent to markets in China and other Asian countries.
The illegal logging takes place in areas such as Los Katios National Park as well as in the departments of Putumayo, Choco, Cauca, Santander and Amazonas and protected areas like El Cocuy and Paramillo.
This is according to the Environment Ministry, the Federation of Timber Industries, the World Bank and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The WWF is beginning a community awareness program in the Apartado region of Antioquia department, one of the most vulnerable, to halt the destruction of the forests. The program is part of the Inter-sectoral Pact for Legal Timber which is to be signed by 36 organizations Wednesday, August 31.
The over-exploitation of forests is endangering 21 native species, and devastating 118,610 acres of forest a year. In May, the Environment Ministry intervened and stopped REM International from felling trees on the Pacific Coast of the Choco department. The Canadian company had been granted a license by the community council Los Delfines to extract 300,000 trees from Bahia Solano but it was found that the firm was causing damage to the soil, water drainage and wildlife.
Currently only 33% of forests in Colombia are certified, which proves that wood obtained from them respects environmental rules. This seal of guarantee is issued by the Forest Stewardship Council.