The negative impact of human activities on the natural environment is apparent wherever you look. Some impacts are an unavoidable consequence of human activities; vast resources are currently invested in finding ways to mitigate those impacts. Other impacts, often entirely preventable, are rooted in greed. Consider how the worst polluters are corporations that prioritise profits over environmental and human health. Similarly, many threatened species continue to be illegally exploited in an unsustainable manner; in the worst cases, the profits from poaching are funding human-rights atrocities and organised criminal networks. Because society pays the price for environmental crimes—which generally benefit only a few people—there is broad interest in preventing environmental abuse, and to punish the perpetrators.
Because society pays the price for environmental crimes—which benefit only a few people—there is broad interest in preventing environmental abuse, and to punish the perpetrators.
Environmental crimes are generally divided into two categories: wildlife crimes—the illegal exploitation of biodiversity (including but not restricted to wildlife trafficking and biopiracy), and pollution crimes—the illegal trade and disposal of waste and hazardous substances. As with other crimes, environmental crimes are generally defined by legislative action, when governments pass environmental laws and regulations that restrict certain kinds of activities. The effectiveness of these laws and regulations in protecting the environment relies on three main factors: (1) identifying conservation priorities, (2) establishing regulations that addresses those needs, and (3) enforcing environmental laws and regulations.