The Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) has identified 22 suspects involved in the illegal logging of Ipe (Handroanthus spp.) in northwest Mato Grosso.
The Ipe was being harvested in the Roosevelt and Aripuanã Indigenous Lands and the timber was being processed by sawmills in the municipalities of Espigão do Oeste, Rondonia and Aripuanã, Mato Grosso.
More than 2,500 cubic meters of logs were found in the areas inspected (about 150 truckloads worth), most of them Ipe.
According to IBAMA, each cubic meter of Ipe (log) that has been harvested from legal forest management plans (PMFS) sells for about R$ 850 (or about US$ 227 at today’s rate). However, Ipe negotiated illegally in the audited indigenous territories was sold for less than $R 50 (or US$ 13) and a monthly fee of about US$ 800 was paid to the indigenous people to gain access to the area for illegal Ipe harvesting.
The illegal Ipe is then laundered using forest credits coming from fraudulent forest management plans and shell companies. The credits for each cubic meter of Ipe can be sold for as much as $R 800 (US$ 215) on the black market.
The inspections were carried out in 9 locations. Environmental agents seized 13 trucks, 3 front loaders, 4 skidders, trailers, in addition to other logging equipment.
In the last three years, Ipe has accounted for 38.7% of exports to the United States and Europe (by volume). By value, Ipe accounts for 56% of forest exports.
While the commercialization of Ipe contributes significantly to the net present value of managed natural forests, the illegal logging of Ipe harms timber companies operating under the law and investments in natural forest management.
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