"We are flying low in helicopter formation over the Brazilian Amazon with agents from Ibama - the state-funded institute responsible for environmental protection.
No country has done more than Brazil in recent years to tackle the previously rampant levels of deforestation but there is a good reason the agents have their guns drawn - we have seen statistics which show that rates of Amazon destruction are again on the rise.
There are big profits to be made from illegal logging and the fraudulent clearing of rainforest for valuable cash crops and these helicopter patrols are often shot at.
Trying to locate illegal logging operations in the midst of this dense jungle from the air is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack."
— Wyre Davies. BBC News.
Cheap hardwood and illegal logging go hand in hand
The least expensive way to obtain South American hardwood is to poach it illegally from the forest with no view to the future.
Sadly, ipe (pronounced “ee-pay”), one of the most common and useful South American hardwood used in exterior applications in recent years, is now becoming increasingly scarce and expensive due to uncontrolled (and often illegal) logging.
Illegal logging occurs all over the world – not just in the South America but also in places like the Russian Far East – and is typically defined as extraction of trees in contravention of any state, foreign, or tribal law. Examples include timber theft, logging in a national park or protected area, or cutting trees without proper authorization from relevant agencies.
According to the international police organization Interpol, the illegal logging trade could be worth as much as $100 billion worldwide. It has also been linked to a rise in murders and corruption, as criminal groups move into remote forest areas. (source: BBC, February 2013).