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Timber mafia refers to organized crime in the field of illegal logging in timber.


Bhutan's forests have been exploited by the “timber mafia” from neighboring Assam.[1] The phenomenon has increased in the last decade.[2]


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November 2013)

Brazil has rampant illegal logging,[3] with deforestation increasing in 2013.[4] The mafia intimidate opponents, however they also have a veneer of legitimacy.[5][6]

According to a study by the Imazon, close to 70 percent of logging in Pará was without State authorization.


Since 2003, a third of all forests in Cambodia have disappeared. The timber mafia wields huge power and have alleged links to government.[7]


Congo is also a victim of the illegal timber trade.[3]


Protected forest areas in parts of India – such as Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Jharkhand – are vulnerable to illegal logging by timber mafias that have coopted or intimidated forestry officials, local politicians, businesses and citizenry.[8][9] Non-state groups have joined the nexus in militancy-affected areas such as Kashmir.[10] Clear-cutting is sometimes covered-up by conniving officials who report fictitious forest fires.[11]

Many studies indicate large losses of forest cover to indiscriminate logging by timber mafias, with over a million hectares in the environs of Chhotanagpur alone being illegally transferred by the forest department directly to industrial, mining and logging companies.[12] Besides the environmental degradation, public financial losses can be substantial: One 1994 estimate of stolen timber in the state of Karnataka amounted to Rs. 10 billion (about US$230 million).[13] Veerappan was a notorious bandit who, until his shooting death by state police in 2004, specialised in illegally logging sandalwood in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.[14]

As with coal, there have been incidents of substitution of low-grade wood for high-quality timber when the procurement of wood is authorised for government use. In an incident in 2005, officials determined that high-quality deodar wood meant for military and railway use had been substituted with lower-quality chir wood in Jammu and Kashmir state; the higher quality wood was intercepted in the process of being smuggled across the state border into Punjab.[15]


The forests of Borneo have faced illegal logging which threatens livelihood and the ecosystem.[16]


The forest industry in Romania is dominated by a “timber mafia” or a “forest mafia.” Half of all Romanian timber is illegally harvested. Those who cross the timber mafia or attempt to enforce Romania’s forest laws are targeted for retribution.[17]

Corruption is a deep rooted issue in Romania that attracts foreign timber companies such as HS Timber which has been implicated in the illegal timber trade, leading Ikea to end sourcing from them. Romania is facing European Commission scrutiny for its failure to halt illegal logging, highlighting the critical situation.


  1. ^ "Gun-trotting Indian timber mafia loots Bhutan forests". The Bhutanese. Archived from the original on 18 November 2023. Retrieved 9 April 2024.
  2. ^ "'Timber Mafia' From India Running Amok in Bhutan". Archived from the original on 7 June 2023. Retrieved 9 April 2024.
  3. ^ a b "The Mafia is Behind 90% of Illegal Logging in the Tropics". TreeHugger. Archived from the original on 2 March 2017. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  4. ^ "Brazil Amazon destruction rises 28 per cent". Archived from the original on 6 August 2020. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  5. ^ "Deadly battle with Amazon's mafia". 16 November 2005. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 15 November 2013 – via
  6. ^ Muñoz, César (17 September 2019). "Rainforest Mafias". Human Rights Watch. Archived from the original on 13 March 2024. Retrieved 9 April 2024.
  7. ^ "The Timber Mafia's Brutal Business – DW – 11/14/2023". Archived from the original on 5 April 2024. Retrieved 9 April 2024.
  8. ^ Marcus Colchester and Christian Erni, Indigenous Peoples and Protected Areas in South and Southeast Asia: From Principles to Practice, IWGIA, 1999, ISBN 87-90730-18-6: "The Forest Department is perceived as corrupt, colluding with timber contractors (the timber mafia), and taking bribes from the communities in return."
  9. ^ Ajay Singh Rawat, Forest Management in Kumaon Himalaya: Struggle of the Marginalised People, Indus Publishing, 1999, ISBN 81-7387-101-9: "within 5 years in the Western Circle, 13 forest officials have been murdered and 39 fatally wounded in their bid to prevent illicit timber trade ... Politicians are chary of getting on the wrong side of the timber mafia, which has proved to be extremely generous during election time."
  10. ^ Ajay Singh Rawat, Man and Forests: The Khatta and Gujjar Settlements of Sub-Himalayan Tarai, Indus Publishing, 1993, ISBN 81-85182-97-3: "forest officials are scared to enter the thick forests unarmed and thus the timber mafia, allegedly patronized by the militants, deal freely in illegal timber trade."
  11. ^ H.C. Upadhyay, Status of Scheduled Tribes in India, Anmol Publications Private Limited, 2004, ISBN 81-261-0367-1: "The timber mafia in collusion with concerned forest officials are reported to resort to the so-called accidental forest fire to hide their illegal plundering."
  12. ^ Prem Xalxo, Complementarity of Human Life and Other Life Forms in Nature: A Study of Human Obligations Toward the Environment with Particular Reference to the Oraon Indigenous Community of Chotanagpur, India, Editrice Pontificia Università Gregoriana, 2007, ISBN 88-7839-082-8: "the unholy alliance between the timber mafia and forest officials is the major cause of deforestation. Although the Forest Conservation act of 1990 forbade the transfer of forest land without the permission of the Central Government of India, the control of over one million hectares of forest land was given to mining companies, industrial units and other private agencies between 1980 and 2006 by the Forest Department."
  13. ^ The Indian Journal of Public Administration v.40, Indian Institute of Public Administration, 1994: "In Karnataka, again, on account of evident collusion between politicians, officials and a mafia group, timber worth one thousand crore of rupees has been illegally procured from forests in recent months."
  14. ^ "The rise and rise of Veerappan". The Hindustan Times. 2002. Archived from the original on 13 October 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
  15. ^ "After water for petrol, Army gets 'substandard' wood". The Tribune, Chandigarh. 1 August 2005. Archived from the original on 2 December 2008. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
  16. ^ McVeigh, Tracy (23 October 2010). "Borneo's majestic rainforest is being killed by the timber mafia". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 25 February 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2016 – via
  17. ^ Ellis, Glenn. "'Timber Mafia' threatens the future of Romania's ancient forests". Al Jazeera. Archived from the original on 2 December 2020. Retrieved 3 December 2020.