Former Programme: Environment

VERTIC’s Environment programme was phased out in 2012, in favour of a larger programme on Verification and Monitoring. Traditionally comprising one staff member, it mostly focused on climate change monitoring. Towards the end of its lifetime, the programme mostly concerned itself with illegal logging. The programme’s landmark study ‘Illegal logging and Related Trade: Indicators of the Global Response’ received, in its first two years after publication, more than 60 citations in other works.

Climate change

Tackling climate change through the 1992 UN Framework Convention, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the post-2012 regime: promoting verification and implementation.

Senior Researcher

Larry MacFaul


Grants and consultancy contracts from the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD), the World Resources Institute (WRI), and others.


VERTIC’s climate change activities support the development and implementation of the UN climate change regime, including the Framework Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and negotiations on future action.

The climate change regime architecture includes procedures for monitoring, reporting, review and compliance. They encompass greenhouse gas emissions estimates, information on policies & measures, and finance. Both developed and developing countries are expected to engage in these procedures, but to differing extents, due to these countries’ varying levels of capacity.

By providing transparency and essential data, these procedures perform an important, central, role in the climate change regime:

-they help to assess both overall and individual party’s progress towards treaty goals. And they give countries the opportunity to demonstrate what action they are taking. These features can create the trust and confidence needed for ongoing international efforts.

-the data generated by these systems helps countries to track the implementation and effects of their policies, and to refine them. And when information is shared publicly, countries can learn from one another.

-the viability and credibility of certain climate policy instruments, such as emissions trading schemes, depends on the data provided by robust monitoring systems.

Focus areas

  • examining options for development of the climate change regime architecture
  • examining ways to enhance transparency and governance in REDD schemes
  • providing assistance on treaty issues

Project activities

  • engaging with governments, international organizations, think-tanks, civil society and the private sector
  • participating in UNFCCC conferences, and in other events
  • carrying out research and analysis, providing advice
  • publishing and presenting on findings and recommendations
  • running in-country capacity building workshops on treaty development and implementation (e.g. in Africa and Europe).

Illegal Logging

Senior Researcher

Larry MacFaul


Chatham House (Royal Institute of International Affairs)


VERTIC has been working with Chatham House (Royal Institute of International Affairs) on its project to assess world-wide progress on tackling illegal logging and related trade. The project has developed a set of indicators to measure the extent and effectiveness of the response to illegal logging across a range of countries and sectors, and to assist policy-makers in understanding what works best.

The main indicator areas cover government policy development and implementation (using policy assessments, enforcement and revenue data), private sector action (using trends in certification and verification schemes, price response, and diversion to less sensitive markets); and what is known about the extent and types of illegal logging and associated trade (using wood balance modeling, import source analysis, and trade data discrepancies). Media attention to the issue was also examined and a multi-country expert perceptions survey was conducted.

Conclusions are drawn on the type and adequacy of the policy response, levels of illegal logging and how they relate to one another. Estimates are also made, where illegal logging has been reduced, of savings in terms of timber, hectares, carbon, and revenue.

Chatham House launched the project’s main report, ‘Illegal Logging and Related Trade: Indicators of the Global Response’ on 15 July 2010, at the Royal Society, London. The report assesses the response and progress in 12 countries – five producer countries (Brazil, Cameroon, Ghana, Indonesia and Malaysia), two processing countries (China and Vietnam) and five consumer countries (Japan, the USA, the UK, France and the Netherlands).

  • This in-depth study demonstrates that actions taken by governments, civil society and the private sector over the last ten years in response to illegal logging and related trade have been extensive and had a considerable impact.
  • Illegal logging is estimated to have fallen by between 50 and 75 per cent during the last decade in Cameroon, the Brazilian Amazon and Indonesia, while imports of illegally sourced wood to the seven consumer and processing countries studied are down 30 per cent from their peak in 2004.
  • As a result up to 17 million hectares of forest are estimated to have been protected from degradation and at least 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions avoided over the last decade. Alternatively, if the trees saved were legally logged this could bring in US$6.5 billion in additional revenues to the countries concerned.
  • Reducing illegal logging further will require a comprehensive overhaul of government policy and regulation in producer countries. Japan and China must also follow in the footsteps of the US and EU and prohibit the import and sale of illegally sourced wood. To ensure such prohibitions are effective and encourage broader improvements, importing countries also need to expand cooperation with source countries along the lines of the EU’s voluntary partnership agreements.
  • It is essential that initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries reinforce the existing response to illegal logging and poor forest governance, rather than distract from it.
    (Source: Chatham House)

The project methodology was developed by Chatham House, VERTIC and an advisory group. Partner organizations around the world assisted with project research which was then reviewed, collated and analysed by Chatham House and VERTIC.

The full report, briefing paper and country report cards can now be downloaded on the Chatham House main website and its illegal logging information website—as listed below.

The work is funded by UK Department for International Development.

Chatham House website Indicators Project page

Illegal Logging Information website Indicators Project Page

Project publications

Illegal logging and Related Trade: Indicators of the Global Response, Sam Lawson & Larry MacFaul, Chatham House (Royal Institute of International Affairs), London, July 2010

Illegal Logging and Related Trade: Indicators of the Global Response Country Report Cards
Sam Lawson and Larry MacFaul, July 2010s working with Chatham House (Royal Institute of International Affairs)

Illegal Logging and Related Trade: Indicators of the Global Response Briefing Paper, Sam Lawson, July 2010

Illegal Logging and Related Trade: Pilot Assessment of the Global Response, Sam Lawson & Larry MacFaul, Chatham House, June 2009

Project presentations

Presentations on this study have been made at the Chatham House Illegal Logging Update and Stakeholder Consultations. These events discuss updates on the latest initiatives, research and developments in international discussions on controlling illegal logging and related trade. They include presentations from ministers and a range of stakeholders and area experts. The meetings involve around 150-200 participants. These are no longer available.