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Communication to Combat Forest Crime in the Lower Mekong and in China:

An interactive handbook based on the findings of the KAP (Knowledge, Attitude, Practices) Survey on Illegal Logging and Illegal Forest Trade in the Lower Mekong and in China



Illegal logging and illegal wood trade are still on the rise.

The Lower Mekong region, which includes Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, is a region of significant biodiversity and forests that act as important carbon sinks to fight climate change. However, the region is facing high levels of deforestation and forest degradation, with estimates suggesting that between 15-30% of global timber production is produced through illegal logging. Organized criminal enterprises are often involved in multiple types of environmental crimes, including forest crime, which is estimated to be worth between USD 50-150 billion annually. Forest crime is also connected to a wider web of criminal activity and represents a significant loss of tax revenue for countries in the region. Stopping forest crime is an urgent issue that is crucial to protecting the region's biodiversity, promoting sustainable development, and fighting climate change.


A. Timber supply and demand are booming

In the Lower Mekong region, weak governance, unclear legal frameworks and regulatory regimes and corruption create an environment in which forest crime can thrive, resulting in devastating levels of deforestation.

Rapidly increasing demand from China’s growing economy has fuelled the illicit trade in Southeast Asian rare and endangered hardwoods, stoking political tensions over natural resource flows from the region’s nations to their giant neighbour to the north.

B. Fighting forest crime requires more than technical interventions

Given the destructiveness of forest crime in the Lower Mekong region, a better understanding of its drivers is crucial. Consumer demand for hardwood is an important driver of forest crime. Supply chains for illegal timber and wood products are profitable because they meet consumer demand for expensive hardwood.

Current efforts also aim to reduce the likelihood of forest crime by strengthening forest and land-use governance in the region. The United Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) is implementing a two-year initiative for Addressing Forest Crime through Improved Governance in the Lower Mekong region (UN-REDD Lower Mekong Initiative). As part of the Initiative, national behavioural change to combat forest crimes are being developed and piloted.

C. Using the KAP score model to design behavioural interventions and campaigns

Development programmes and initiatives often produce intangible outcomes that can be difficult to measure. The challenge of intangibility is especially true for prevention-type programmes since observing changes in behaviour becomes near impossible (Lindgren 2019).

The Knowledge, Attitude, Practices Score model (Lindgren 2019) can address the intangibility of programme outcomes by producing a proxy measure focusing on behavioural compliance.

What is a KAP score model? 

The KAP Score model was included in this study to measure knowledge, attitude, and practice (KAP) related to forest crime. The model served as a ‘plug-in’ module in the study to generate more robust and easy-to-understand results. Incorporating the model provided the following advantages:


Better Survey Validity

The model fosters more structured thinking around how KAP applies to the forest crimes-related issues, challenges and opportunities 


More Reliable Results

The survey questions used are less direct and less sensitive.


Easier Interpretation of Findings

The indicators used makes it easy to understand the differences between different subsegments with the help of one-number indicators. 


Benchmarking for Future Impact

The indicators can serve as benchmarks against which the impact of planned future campaigns can be compared.


Campaign Strategy

Results can be translated into a campaign brief, including target audience selection, media channels with the most reach, and input for message development.

The knowledge, attitude, practices journey has 5 stages of change.


Based on the results of the baseline study, the KAP Index and KAP Segmentation indicators were generated.

The KAP Index is an indicator in which knowledge, attitudinal and behavioural measures have been incorporated to form a one-number score. A high KAP Index is synonymous with high behavioural compliance. As a one-number indicator, the KAP Index is beneficial when comparing results between different countries, sub-segments, and time periods. There are also benchmarking capabilities based on results from over 200 studies. 

The KAP Segmentation indicator shows how the target audience is distributed across the stages of change. Each respondent is allocated to one of the five stages based on their compliance with the KAP questions. The stage of change where most beneficiaries can be found determines the type of campaign needed. For example, knowledge levels are very low at lower stages in the journey and call for campaigns focusing on awareness and knowledge building.