Understanding illegality and corruption in forest governance

Journal of Environmental Management
Available online 18 July 2016
In Press, Corrected Proof — Note to users
Understanding illegality and corruption in forest governance
A Sundström
:: This article reviews the research on illegality and corruption in forest management.
:: The review provides theoretical reasoning why corruption increases illegal logging.
:: It examines previous empirical findings, cross-national as well as in-depth studies.
:: The review discusses the implications for conservation, including REDD+ programs.
:: It discusses how to improve monitoring of the forest sector in corrupt contexts.
This review synthesizes the literature studying illegality and government corruption in forest management. After discussing the theoretical connections between different types of corruption and illegal forest-related activities it describes the major trends in previous studies, examining cross-national patterns as well as local in-depth studies. Both theory and available empirical findings provide a straightforward suggestion: Bribery is indeed a “door opener” for illegal activities to take place in forest management. It then discusses the implications for conservation, focusing first on international protection schemes such as the REDD+ and second on efforts to reduce illegality and bribery in forest management. Key aspects to consider in the discussion on how to design monitoring institutions of forest regulations is how to involve actors without the incentive to engage in bribery and how to make use of new technologies that may publicize illegal behavior in distant localities. The review concludes by discussing avenues for future research.