A new study finds that illegal logging, coupled with weak state-run timber licensing systems, has led to massive timber harvesting fraud in Brazil, resulting in huge illicit harvests of Ipê trees. Ipê wood is largely shipped to the U.S. and Europe with the high value (up to $2,500 per cubic meter at export). Buyers all along the timber supply chain turn a blind eye toward fraud, with sawmills, exporters, and importers trusting the paperwork they receive, rather than questioning whether the lower prices they pay for Ipê and other timber may be due to timber laundering. This process is doing major damage to the Amazon. To reduce document fraud, the Brazilian federal government required that all states register or integrate their timber licensing systems within a national timber inventory and tracking system known as Sinaflor. While this should reduce fraudulent paperwork, better oversight of forest management plans and more onsite inspections of timber operations are needed also.
The Indonesian Trade Ministry has defended its stance on a revised regulation annulling the timber legality verification system (SVLK) requirement for exporting 15 downstream products of timber, saying that exporters are still obliged to show proof of environmentally certified material. Under the revised regulation, small to medium-sized exporters are exempted from an obligation to provide SVLK certification and are only required to provide an export declaration without an expiry date. Pulp and paper manufacturers are unlikely to be affected due to their large size. The value of Indonesia’s timber product exports to the EU went up by 8.9 percent from US$593 million in 2013 to $645.9 million last year, accounting for around 9 percent of the total export value of the country’s timber products, according to data from the FLEGT-VPA annual report.
Myanmar’s Ministry of Commerce has revealed that US$ 17 million worth of timber was recently found to have been smuggled from Myanmar to China via illegal routes avoiding official checkpoints along the road to Muse, Myanmar's border town with China. Most of Myanmar’s trade is with China and Thailand and with Chinese import restrictions on some agricultural products from Myanmar, local exporters find it difficult to get health recommendations from China for their exports, creating a growing illegal trade.