Illegal logging has declined since 2002, according to a new report from a London-based research group.  

The production of illegal timber has fallen by almost one quarter since 2002, says the new report from Chatham House.

In three of the world's most highly forested countries - Cameroon, Brazil, and Indonesia - it has declined 50 to 75 percent.

That is partly a result of actions taken in producer countries, says report author Sam Lawson.  But he says reform has happened on a global scale.   

"Their response has been quite broad based.  It is not just the producer countries themselves that have been taking actions, it is the consumer countries which are responsible for creating the demand for the cheap timber, those countries have also been taking actions to deal with their consumption and to help producer countries tackle the problem," Lawson said.

New laws have been passed in the United States and Europe that ban the import of illegal timber.  The Chatham House report says it is important for other countries to implement similar laws, such as major illegal-wood importer Japan.

Lawson says huge progress has been made in the past decade, which he partly attributes to pressure groups and the media who have drawn the world's attention to the problem.

But he says there is a lot more that needs to be done.  In Indonesia, for example, 40 percent of harvesting is illegal.  Lawson says the challenges ahead may be the hardest.  

"I think some of the low hanging fruit, as it were, have already been picked and the deeper you get into the problem the more challenging it becomes," Lawson said.

But bringing an end to illegal logging is vital he says.  Ending illegal logging, Lawson says, will cut carbon dioxide emissions around the world, and will protect the livelihoods of forest-dependent people.   

"Now, about one-billion people around the world are directly dependent on forests for their livelihoods, they get their foods, their construction materials, their medicine sometimes, they rely on the clean water from the forests," Lawson said. "And those people's livelihoods are destroyed when the forests are destroyed and illegal logging is one of the biggest drivers of that destruction."

According to the Chatham House report, 17 million hectares of forest have been protected from degradation in the past decade.