Providing intelligence to combat illegal logging and timber trade

Illegal logging accelerates climate change through direct forest loss. Therefore, Environmental Investigation Agency provides intelligence to law enforcement agencies and the public to halt illegal logging.


Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)ok

Environmental Investigation Agency and its partners contribute to the implementation and enforcement of powerful new prohibitions on trade in illegally-sourced forest products in the United States and Europe, inspiring their replication in other countries, deeper engagement with the private sector, and building local capacity to secure forest governance reform and forest conservation.


Illegal logging accelerates climate change through direct forest loss, and indirectly opens up forested areas to further degradation and conversion that would not otherwise occur.

A 2012 World Bank study found that an area of forest the size of a football field is clear-cut by illegal loggers around the globe every two seconds and that illegal logging accounts for as much as 90 percent of all logging in some countries.

INTERPOL recently estimated that illegal logging generates at a minimum US$11 billion annually in criminal proceeds. Illegal logging operations often involve human rights abuses, including violence against impoverished local communities, forced labor in logging camps, and the polluting of precious water supplies.

International demand for cheap illegal wood products is a key driver of this illegal crisis.


The total budget for the project (2016-2020) was NOK 128,6 million. Norad intended originally to offer NOK 75 million in total for the period 2016-2020.

In 2018, Norad was tasked with assessing an additional application from the Environmental Investigation Agency on 24th May 2018 and a final version received on 7th November 2018. An addendum totaling NOK 29 024 800 million for the period 2018-2020 was entered into agreement on 7th December 2018.

Norad intends to offer NOK 104 million in total for the period 2016-2020.


EIA’s strategic approach for generating transformation in the global commodity market consists of two components that reinforce each other to achieve structural change in the drivers of deforestation.

Firstly, newly established policies, such as the U.S. Lacey Act, the EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) regulations, and the Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Act, are proving transformational in shifting the forest product supply chain toward greater transparency and accountability. Among other things, these policies lead to clarification of land tenure and rights issues in source-countries, strengthen forest governance, and protect biodiversity, as actors seek to comply with new market regulations.

These international demand-side policies make the hard fought campaigns of civil society and forest dependent communities in-country for sustainable governance of forests matter in international trade. 

The second leg of this strategy will assist civil society and forest dependent communities in-country to leverage these changes in commodity markets to improve local forest governance.

Outreach and capacity building efforts in key geographic focal points will allow market and supply chain efforts to empower local communities.

Education and coordinated campaigns will illustrate how forest-dependent communities can play a leading role in improving their access to markets, improving transparency, fighting corruption, and fostering poverty-alleviating development.

These activities will be designed to be replicable by forest-dependent communities in all tropical countries threatened by deforestation.

The two elements described above strengthen each other to achieve transformational, sustained change: mechanisms in consumer countries that hold the supply chain to account combine to empower civil society participation as they see that their concerns have consequences in the global marketplace. In turn, as in-country civil society becomes more involved in documenting forest governance failures, consumer countries can more effectively take demand-side action.

Finally, both strategies combine to transform the standards and practices of critical manufacturing centers of the world (e.g., China), as they respond to new demands from their customers (e.g., U.S. and Europe) and emerging reforms among their suppliers. The coming years are critical in order to seize the opportunity afforded by new demand-side policies measures emerging around the world to fully solidify the market transformation that began with their passage.

Expected results

The emerging global timber legality framework is already radically transforming global supply chains by increasing transparency and holding actors to account at all levels for sourcing and trading illegal timber products.

By empowering indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities to recognize and assert their rights with respect to logging concessions and other activities that affect their lands, this project will increase the potential impacts and long-term prospects for improved forest governance.

Shifting legal and market incentives at the demand side of supply chains, and raising the capacity of in-country civil society to monitor and advocate for fair and sustainable natural resource use are having a powerful effect on one of the largest global drivers of deforestation and degradation globally.

This project will leverage on the ground research and analysis about forest law enforcement and governance challenges to inform both national programs and global REDD+ policies. This work also raises the profile of illegal logging in multilateral policy venues to shape the international REDD+ agenda. It also helps identify gaps in donor financing and facilitates increased donor coordination of efforts to achieve greater transparency and accountability in global commodity supply chains.

The project will result in better implementation and enforcement of existing legality policies in the United States, Europe, Australia, and globally, as well as create new laws in countries that currently lack such policies, thereby continuing the trend toward reducing illegal logging rates around the world.

By providing actionable evidence and supporting capacity building of civil society and the agencies responsible with implementation and enforcement of these laws, EIA will ensure that violations result in prosecution and corrective actions. It will also result in forest governance reform to increase better transparency, accountability, rule of law and participation.

In 2018, Norad was tasked with assessing an additional application from the Environmental Investigation Agency on 24th May 2018 and a final version received on 7th November 2018.
An addendum totaling NOK 29 024 800 million for the period 2018-2020 was entered into agreement on 7th December 2018 to achieve the following objectives: 

i) Development and implementation of verifiable traceability systems and increased public transparency in producer countries (Colombia, Peru, Gabon)

ii) Empowerment of local communities through consumer pressure in demand side countries for legal and deforestation free products

The addendum also includes the expansion of one existing outcome:

iii) Demand side legality and governance policy frameworks for agricultural commodities in international trade are developed and implemented to cover: “Existing laws and regulations to address finance and trade of forest risk commodities involving illegal activity are utilized”


The implementing partners in the project include:

  • Environmental Investigation Agency, Ltd. (EIA UK) is a key implementing partner.

Other partner organizations include:

  • EcoDev (Myanmar)
  • Jaringan Pemantau Independen Kehutanan (Indonesia)
  • Forest Watch Indoneisa (Indonesia)
  • Field Legal Advisory Group (Cameroon)
  • Reseau Action Concertees Pygmee (Cameroon)
  • Centre pour l’Environnement et le Developpement (Cameroon)
  • Forets et Developpement Rural (Cameroon)
  • Cercle d’Appui à la Gestion Durable des Forêts (Republic of Congo)
  • AZUR Developpement (Republic of Congo)
  • Forum pour la Gouvernance et les Droits de l’Homme (Republic of Congo)
  • Reseau National des Peuples Autochtones du Congo (Republic of Congo)
  • Brainforest (Gabon)
  • Environnement Sans Frontières (Gabon)
  • Observatoire pour la Gouvernance Forestière (DRC)
  • Dynamique des Groupes des Peuples Autochtones (DRC)
  • AIDESEP (Peru)
  • ECOREDD (Peru)
  • Digital Democracy (US)
  • Red Ambiental Loretana (Peru)
  • Derecho Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (Peru)
  • Progressio Latina (Honduras)
  • Fundacion Democracia sin Fronteras (Honduras),
  • CONPAH (Honduras)
  • Justicia y Paz (Colombia)
  • Tierra Digna (Colombia)
  • Center for International Environmental Law (US)
  • Rainforest Action Network (US), Reverb (US)
  • Sierra Club (US).

About the project descriptions

The project descriptions give insight in the NICFI portfolio for civil society organisations supported by Norad. 

The descriptions presented are written by the project partners. Only minor edits have been undertaken by Norad. Their presentations and conclusions do not necessarily reflect the views of Norad.

Published 12.07.2016
Last updated 07.09.2020