A dictionary definition of the term illegal tells us that it means something "not allowed by the law".1 According to the same dictionary, a law is "the system of rules of a particular country, group or area of activity". To further clarify the meaning of illegal, it is also useful to consider its synonyms, which include "criminal", "illegitimate" and "irregular".2 The term "criminal act" is often used interchangeably with the term "illegal act". However, the former has a more markedly negative connotation, as it refers to an act that is sanctioned under criminal law. Furthermore, a crime may be carried out by someone whose activities are normally legal, such as a logging company, or by a criminal organization whose main goal is to carry out criminal acts, as discussed in Chapter 5. The term "irregular", on the other hand, refers to "a behaviour or action not according to usual rules or what is expected" 1. It may refer, for instance, to an action that deviates from a certain procedure specified in a voluntary code of conduct that does not have the status of law. Though not a synonym, the term "informal" has also become quite prominent in recent discussions about illegality in the forest sector. It deserves some qualification to avoid conflation with the term "illegal" and it will be considered in the following section.
Daniela Kleinschmit, Stephanie Mansourian, Christoph Wildburger, Andre Purret (eds.). 2016. Illegal Logging and Related Timber Trade - Dimensions, Drivers, Impacts and Responses: A Global Scientific Rapid Response Assessment Report. 23-35
International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO)