A study conducted in Pará, Brazil sheds a light on how Ipe logs enter supply chains illegally through fraud in forest inventories.

The study found that most foresters reported much higher Ipe timber volumes than were found in the study forest inventory plots (Brancalion et al. 2018).

In fact:

  • Only 61% of the 152 trees identified as Ipe in logging permits were confirmed during field checking of logged forests;
  • In one site, 93.3% of trees identified as Ipe were not Ipe;
  • 13 commercial species were falsely identified as Ipe;
  • Tanimbuca (Terminalia sp.), Jarana (Lecythis lurida), and Timborana (Anadenanthera sp.) were the species most frequently falsely identified as Ipe  (72.4% of the individuals);
  • Overestimation of the diameter at breast height (DBH) of real Ipe trees was common;
  • Of 130 logged trees assessed, 31% were smaller than the DBH claimed in logging permits.

Purposefully overestimating the number and volume of Ipe trees in a forest allows for extra documents to be generated – in the case of Brazil, the Document of Forest Origin (DOF). These extra documents can then be used to make illegally harvested Ipe appear legal.

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