ONGOING PROJECTS

 

Timber Investigation Centre

The Timber Investigation Centre is dedicated to improving the ability of civil society to monitor illegal logging & deforestation, track illegal wood through international supply chains, and use the information obtained to best effect. It has a particular focus on helping communities and activists in forested countries harness the power of consumer country laws meant to prevent illegal wood reaching end markets.

It hosts information and resources that can help communities and non-profits across the world stem supply chains that are contributing to deforestation, the loss of biodiversity, and harming the livelihoods and rights of rural communities. At its core is a guidebook, which includes advice and methods ranging from how to source and analyse satellite images to how to track ships and trucks.

 

By acting as a continuously updated, single source of aggregated news and analysis, IDM’s goal is to galvanise and influence global action to tackle the problem. IDM has rapidly developed a reputation as one of the best sources of information for companies, governments and activists working on forests and forest-risk commodities.

Illegal Deforestation Monitor (IDM) monitors illegalities relating to conversion of forests for export-oriented agribusiness, the largest driver of global deforestation. It brings together news on illegal deforestation from around the world, from the Amazon to Southeast Asia, and combines it with new in-depth analysis of individual cases and expert commentary on the problem and the response of companies and governments.

Illegal Deforestation Monitor

 

indonesia for sale

Indonesia for Sale is an investigative series which explores in unprecedented depth the corruption underpinning Indonesia’s land rights and deforestation crisis. Built around three main investigative reports into specific deals which saw local people’s land stolen for the development of palm oil plantations, the series was also supported by short films and picture stories, and included a series of articles outlining the policy implications of our findings. It was produced in partnership with environmental news site Mongabay.

The series received high-profile attention in Indonesia and internationally. The films and written stories were widely shared and viewed millions of times. The final installment, which exposed the corruption behind a vast palm oil plantation which represents the single largest current threat to Indonesia’s forests, made the front page of Tempo, Indonesia’s leading news magazine. Its investigative journalists won an award for their contribution to the story.

The series was published by Earthsight under the branding of The Gecko Project. As of May 2019, The Gecko Project has become an independent organisation in its own right. However, Earthsight is continuing to investigate these issues in Indonesia, and their overseas connections, in partnership with The Gecko Project and Mongabay, and expanding this in-depth investigative work on land-grabbing, corruption and deforestation to Brazil.

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There are laws in place to ensure that dodgy wood isn’t entering markets in America and Europe. They aren’t being respected. Neither are the concerns of the consumers who care about the fate of the world’s forests. We decided we could no longer stand back and watch in silence as this happened. So we created Timberleaks. Backed up with hard evidence, including from a growing network of industry informants, we’re here to dish the dirt on the most scandalous practices of the wood industry to the people who most need to hear it.

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RECENT INVESTIGATIONS

 

COMPLICIT IN CORRUPTION

For the last two years, Earthsight has been investigating illegal logging and timber corruption in Ukraine, and tracking connections to overseas markets. This corruption is threatening Ukraine’s forests – home to lynx, bear and wolves - and also undermining wider governance in a fragile state suffering from armed conflict.

The report, 'Complicit in Corruption- How billion-dollar firms and European governments are failing Ukraine's forests' is accessible at this page.

The report made headlines in Ukraine, and has also featured in high profile media in Europe, including leading German news magazine Der Spiegel, and prime-time in-depth coverage on flagship German TV station Das Erste. Shortly after the report was published, the Ukrainian Prime Minister ordered a crackdown on illegal timber. Major EU buyers have suspended purchases, dropped suppliers or launched investigations in response, and Earthsight was invited to present the findings to a major roundtable meeting at the Ukrainian Parliament.

 Read the report in English

  Read the report in Ukrainian

 

THE COMING STORM

An investigative report we released in March 2018 documented the destruction of the forests of the Congo Basin for industrial palm oil and rubber plantations. The Coming Storm reveals that five-hundred square kilometres of forest has been bulldozed in the last five years and that the destruction is set to accelerate, as high-level corruption and some of the most notorious logging companies in the region combine to create a toxic mix. 

Our investigation revealed that each of the largest logging firms in the Republic of Congo, DR Congo and Central African Republic are all now connected in some way with plantation projects clearing forests. These logging companies have some of the worst reputations for illegalities and human rights abuses of any in their sector; one has even helped fund armed conflict. Our report also exposed shocking levels of collusion and hypocrisy. As top officials jet around the globe making promises to protect forests, they are consigning vast areas to destruction. Some are turning a blind eye to illegality and abuse, others are even helping the firms hide their illicit activities. 

Read the full report HERE

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Choice Cuts

Our year-long investigation, published in July 2017, exposed how European supermarkets are helping drive the most rapid tropical deforestation anywhere in the world. Charcoal produced from old-growth trees being clear-felled in the Paraguayan dry Chaco forests was found on sale in branches of Lidl, Aldi and Carrefour. These forests are home to jaguars, giant anteaters and the only tribe living in isolation in South America outside the Amazon. Our investigation took us from the remote forest to the top of the Paraguayan government, exposing the role of a powerful minister in the ransacking of the Chaco.

Choice Cuts received high-profile media coverage in key European markets, prompted a petition with more than 120,000 signatures, and sparked fresh attention to the crisis within Paraguay. As a result of our findings, the supermarket Carrefour has suspended sales while Lidl and Aldi have committed to investigate. The PEFC, a certification organisation whose scheme was used in a comical attempt to greenwash the role of the charcoal trade in this global environmental crisis, is also investigating. Two months after the launch of our investigation, and once our findings had been widely reported in the Paraguayan media, a congressional committee launched an investigation into deforestation in the Chaco, ordering the environment ministry to release documentation on permits and prosecutions. In January 2018, 6 months after the launch of our investigation, the PEFC decided to strip the Paraguayan charcoal exporter, Bricapar, of it's sustainability certification.

Read the full investigation HERE

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