Documentation:Open Case Studies/Resources/Short Assignment/Student Handout

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What Is Illegal Logging? UBC Wiki Open Case Studies

What makes a particular practice of logging “illegal”? How do competing claims for rights to access resources influence perspectives on legal and illegal logging?

These questions are not easily answered, and indeed there is much scholarly debate. This assignment asks you to work in groups of 2 – 3 to present your research and evaluate this concept in relation to logging practices in the location of your choice. You will organize and report your research findings on the UBC Wiki. Using the wiki may seem daunting at first, but there is a lot of support available, including class time given to teaching you how to use the wiki!

This assignment is worth 15% of your final grade.

Getting Started on Your Project / Things you need to know

  • Review the introductory Wiki case study: "What is Illegal Logging?"
  • Evaluate the concept of “illegal logging” by researching the politics, history and practices surrounding logging in any country or region of your group’s choosing.
  • Ensure your group attends to all five categories (Introduction; Framing the Problem; Historical Context; Implications; Initiatives) listed below.
  • It is imperative that you attend the lecture given by the CTLT (Center for Learning, Teaching, and Technology) that will teach you how to use the wiki.
  • Organize and report your findings on the UBC Wiki, using the template provided by your instructor.
  • A laptop is required for this project.
  • For additional support using the wiki, please see this page on the UBC Wiki: You can also watch video tutorials for MediaWiki formatting on youtube (check out this playlist:

Please Note: Case studies will be written using the UBC Wiki whose purpose is to enable virtual and continual collaboration. Anyone with a CWL will be able to make edits to your case study, to allow for corrections and updates in the future – similar to Wikipedia. If you don’t approve of the changes, all previous versions are saved and can be restored at any time.

What you need to address in your case study


Here, briefly introduce the area of your case study, the actors, and define relevant terms.

Framing the Problem

Why is there a conflict in this area? Why are competing claims a problem? Who benefits? Who sustains losses?

  • Who claims ownership of the forests in the region or country where you are located?
  • When / what are the date(s) when that ownership was asserted?
  • Are there other constituency groups who claim ownership or rights to those forests? If yes, name them.
  • How are those constituency groups contesting the claims of the legal owners?
  • What may be an example of illegal logging in the forests in the region or country where you are located?

Historical Context

Provide a brief historical context for the area. Are there any recent/historical social/political protests or uprisings that may be related to issues of sovereignty or rights to resources?


This section is divided into sub-sections, with a focus on environmental, political, social, and cultural implications.


What are the environmental implications of this practice of illegal logging? Consider whether nature has intrinsic value. Also consider what impacts this particular practice of illegal logging has on other Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs), as well as other environmental impacts.

  • What does the phrase ‘Nature’s Bounty’ mean?
  • What does ‘fall-down’ mean in terms of logging?
  • What might be the consequences for an ecosystem when selective illegal logging removes all the seed-bearing trees of specific commercially-desirable species?
  • What might be the consequences for an ecosystem when ‘Nature’s Bounty’ is liquidated or degraded through illegal logging?
  • What are the arguments used to justify clear-cut logging?
  • What does ‘variable retention’ mean in reference to logging in Canada?
  • What studies can you find that evaluate the consequence of ‘variable retention’ for ecosystem resilience?

Describe governmental jurisdiction over this issue and dilemmas for lawmakers, current laws/precedents related to the problem.

Also consider who has power to enforce decisions on this issue, and what kind of power shifts (if any) would need to occur to resolve the issue of illegal logging.


Due to its nature, the economic impacts of illegal logging may be difficult to explicitly quantify. Consider:

  • What are the consequences of corruption on forest-dependent communities?
  • What are the consequences of illegal logging on the legitimate businesses that have to compete with illegal logging?
  • What are the consequences of illegal logging on the national forestry agency and/or other agencies, like the phytosanitary department, the Customs and Trade agency?
  • What are the consequences of illegal logging on consumers who purchase the products of illegal logging?

Categorize the social groups which are affected by illegal logging. Explain how the negative impacts can be minimized.

  • Can you describe the consequences for a named Indigenous People or Local Community if their rights of ownership or access to that forest homeland are denied by a legal owner?
  • Can you describe the consequences for a named Indigenous People or Local Community if their forest homeland is degraded or destroyed through illegal logging?
  • Can you describe a cultural or spiritual practice of a named Indigenous People or Local Community that is dependent on access to a forest or forest product?
  • Can you describe a narrative of a named Indigenous People or Local Community that is related to a forest homeland?

Initiatives to Combat Illegal Logging

Are there any local, regional, or global initiatives involved in your area? Briefly describe/link to them here.

Tell us about your experience using the Wiki - will link to survey