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Government triples funding for combating forest crime through INTERPOL

Posted by African Press International on August 10, 2013

The Norwegian Government is stepping up its efforts to combat deforestation. Around 40 % of logging in tropical forests is illegal. “The world’s “green lungs” need to be protected. The Government’s decision to triple its support for INTERPOL is a clear signal that we take the fight against illegal logging seriously,” said Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås.

The International Climate and Forest Initiative is a priority area for the Norwegian Government. Norway is now increasing its support for phase two of an international police cooperation project targeting the illegal logging industry, which is worth between NOK 240 billion and NOK 600 billion globally. The efforts that Norway is supporting have so far helped to ensure that illegal timber worth NOK 288 million has been seized.

“It is crucial that we fight the organised criminal networks that are earning huge amounts of money from deforestation. There is no point spending lots of money on rainforest conservation if criminals then simply chop the forest down,” Mr Holmås said.

Norway is also allocating NOK 15 million to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for projects targeting forest crime.

Through INTERPOLs Project LEAF, Norway is supporting training for national police authorities in investigating and taking action against illegal logging. In the most recent operation, rainforest timber equivalent to 20 000 truckloads was seized by police in Venezuela and Costa Rica. Similar operations are being planned in Asia and Africa.

Project LEAF (Law Enforcement Assistance for Forests) is a consortium initiative led by INTERPOL and the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) centre in Norway (UNEP GRID Arendal). The initiative is funded by the Government of Norway and managed by Norad (the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.

 

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