"Follow The Money To Catch Illegal Loggers: World Bank"

"The same follow-the-money approach used to catch drug kingpins and human traffickers could be used to track down the big operators behind large-scale illegal logging, the World Bank said on Tuesday."

"Around the world, illegal loggers cut down an area of forest the size of a football field every two seconds, generating criminal proceeds of between $10 billion and $15 billion annually, the Bank said in a report,

'You have a crime, it's generating proceeds, and one way to enlarge your toolkit is to follow the money,' said Jean Pesne, manager of the Bank's Financial Market Integrity unit, which released the report, 'Justice for Forests.'

Deforestation of protected land may be done to harvest old-growth trees and exotic woods or to clear land for large-scale agriculture or cattle grazing. But it can lead to soil erosion and cuts down on trees' ability to lock up climate-warming carbon dioxide.

The report, which does not differentiate between the reasons for tree-cutting, advocates the use of financial tools more familiar in the pursuit of organized criminals to combat illegal deforestation."

Deborah Zabarenko reports for Reuters March 22, 2012.

Source: Reuters, 03/22/2012