Research and data on forest commodity supply chains and policy

Ecuador Armed Forces seize Balsa wood.

According to Primicias, the Ministry of Environment in Ecuador reported that 1,973 cubic meters of Balsa wood were seized in 2020. When compared to the volume seized in 2019 (689 m3), that’s an increase of 186%.

Locations of Balsa wood seizures in northern Ecuador during 2020. Source: Timber Risk Map.

On a global scale, this is a relatively small volume. For example, during the last weeks of 2020, the Brazilian government seized 130,000 cubic meters of wood.

What’s noteworthy about the jump in Ecuador Balsa wood seizures is that it appears to be directly related to the growth in clean energy.

See: Is that wind turbine made from illegally harvested Balsa wood?

Balsa wood is one of the main materials used in wind turbine blade cores. The US Department of Energy forecasts total US wind capacity to double by 2030. Global Balsa consumption by wind turbine manufacturers is expected to remain well over 200,000 cubic meters into 2023.

Wind turbines in Mistelbach, Austria. Photo: Dimitry Anikin | A boat load of undocumented Balsa wood seized by the Armed Forces on the Napo River in Sucumbíos, Ecuador. Photo: Fuerzas Armadas de Ecuador

Concerned about legal risks in timber supply chains? Join TimberCheck™ or check the Timber Risk Map. Want to explore the declared origin of a wood product? Start a WoodFlow™. Curious what the forest looks like after the presumed harvest, request access to TimberSat™.

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