Researching Illegal Logging and Deforestation

Tropical deforestation such as in the Amazon can be studied well from a green criminological perspective. Ethnographic research methods form a useful way to get insight into the dynamics and complexity of tropical deforestation, which often is illegal. This article gives an account of various ethnographic visits to the rainforests of the Amazon in the period 2003‐ 2014. Ethnographic methods provide insight into the overlap between the legal and illegal, the functioning (or not) of state institutions, the power of (corporate) lobbies, and why tropical deforestation correlates with crimes such as corruption and violence. The use of ethnographic methods in forest areas where trustworthy state actors and institutions are not very present can also present danger and raise ethical issues (such as when the researcher, for reasons of safety, does not present as a criminological researcher). However, a large advantage of ethnographic visits to tropical rainforests is that they allow the gathering of local views and voices, which rarely reach the international level. These local views lead to interesting contradictions at the international level where corporate views and lobbies dominate.

This article appeared in the International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy. Download the full article with this link: Researching logging and deforestation.