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Report says illegal logging declining

Associated Press / July 16, 2010

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LONDON — Tougher enforcement and strict new rules have led to a dramatic drop in illegal logging, sparing woodland in Cameroon, national parks in Indonesia, and rain forests in the Amazon, a British think tank said yesterday.

Worldwide, an international clampdown on unlawfully harvested timber has helped protect up to 42 million acres of forest over the past few years — roughly the same area covered by the state of Illinois, according to a report published yesterday by the London-based Chatham House.

Since 2002, the report said, production of illegal timber has fallen by nearly 25 percent.

“We’re a quarter of the way there,’’ said Sam Lawson, one of the report’s authors. He expressed the hope that newer regulations — such as a European law passed last week that will ban the import of illegal timber by 2012 — would cut the amount of illegal logging further.

Illegal logging in the Amazon has been cut by between 50 percent and 75 percent, with similar drops in Indonesia and Cameroon, the report found.

That’s good news for the fight to contain climate change, in part because forests help absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It’s also good news for cash-strapped governments in the developing world, which can recoup revenue lost to illegal logging.

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