• Introduction

    Environmental crime is any breach of national or international law or treaty that exists to ensure the conservation and sustainability of the world’s environment, biodiversity and natural resources. This type of crime includes but is not limited to illegal trade in wildlife, illegal logging and theft of natural resources. Illegal logging refers to a range of illegal activities related to forest ecosystems, forest industries, and timber and non-timber forest products (NFTPs). These illegal activities range from acts related to the establishment of rights to land, to corrupt activities to acquire forest concessions, and to unlawful activities at all stages of forest management and the forest goods production chain, from the planning stage, to harvesting and transportation of raw material and finished products, to financial management. Wildlife crime may start with illegal encroachment and poaching, and may include subsequent acts, such as the processing of the animal (if not for the live trade), their transportation, offer for sale, sale and possession. Some of these crimes will take place solely in the country of origin, whilst others will also occur in a transit country and/or the country of destination (if part of international trade). Given the broad range of activities along the chain, illegal trade involves a complex and diverse set of actors. These include for example, illegal hunters and loggers ranging from small scale to professional level, layers of middlemen, top level traders and organized crime groups, militants and consumers.

    All great ape range countries have laws prohibiting poaching and trade in great apes. Likewise habitat that benefits from protected area status in theory affords integral protection. Enforcement is the collective term for professionals who work to uphold and enforce laws and regulations. These provisions generally give government agencies authority to impose sanctions, in either an administrative, judicial or criminal forum, and require the violator to comply with the law. The function of legal enforcement involves managing the punishment process for people who are convicted of crimes, up to and including managing the process of incarceration. Stakeholders in the regulation of trade and conservation can include national forestry, wildlife and environmental government agencies and departments, enforcement agencies such as the police, customs and the military, the judiciary, logging companies, agribusinesses, local communities, NGOs, and international partnerships and agreements.

  • How does improved law enforcement help ape conservation?

  • Are there also negative aspects of law enforcement?

  • How is law enforcement implemented / applied in practice?

Compiled and edited 2011 by Kay H. Farmer
Reviewed by Hjalmar Kuehl, Josephine Head and Neba Funwi-Gabga

  • References