Norway steps up the fight against illegal deforestation with a £12m fund


The cash pot, announced this week, will be spent on expanding an Interpol taskforce to investigate the gangs that drive illegal deforestation

Halting and reversing land degradation and tropical deforestation could have a huge, positive impact on climate change. To this end, the Norwegian government has announced a fund of 145m kroner (£12m) to help fight forest crime such as illegal tree clearances.

The fund, announced on Wednesday, will go to a partnership between Interpol, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the Rhipto Norwegian Center for Global Analyses to combat illegal deforestation. Organised criminals make up to US$152bn (£116bn) a year illegally cutting down invaluable tropical forests.

There are multiple opportunities to break the law along the deforestation ‘value chain’, said the government in a statement this week, from bribes, corruption and fake licences, to illegal land conversion, the illegal export of timber and hiding the money in tax havens.

Companies operating illegally, organised criminal groups and even cartels are destroying the planet’s forests. The deforestation has a huge impact not only on climate change, but also on indigenous people who live in the rainforests and the unique biodiversity that the rainforests contain.

Because the criminal activity behind illegal deforestation is complex, there is a need for a holistic law enforcement approach, hence the partnership approach. “It is paramount to scale up and intensify the battle against forestry crimes to reach national climate goals, the Paris agreement and Sustainable Development Goals,” said Ola Elvestuen, the Norwegian minister of climate and the environment.

“In collaboration with ambitious partner countries, we will no longer permit criminals to perform massive destruction of tropical forests. We will intensify the effort to stop them through this extensive support to tackle forestry crimes.”

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