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Corruption Stains Timber Trade - Washington Post
Several RRI Partners and Collaborators are quoted in an article in the Washington Post, highlighting Chinese and Western demand that is fueling rampant illegal logging in Burma, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea.
Learn more about RRI collaborative work on China and Forest Trade in the Asia-Pacific Region here.
Forests destroyed in China's race to feed global wood-processing industry
The Washington Post, Sunday April 1, 2007
Peter S. Goodman and Peter Finn
Myitkyina, Burma - The Chinese logging boss set his sights on a thickly forested mountain just inside Burma, aiming to harvest one of the last natural stands of teak on Earth. He handed a rice sack stuffed with $8,000 worth of Chinese currency to two agents with connections in the Burmese borderlands, the men said in interviews. They used that stash to bribe everyone standing between the teak and China. In came the Chinese logging crews. Out went huge logs, over Chinese-built roads.
About 2,500 miles to the northeast, Chinese and Russian crews hacked into the virgin forests of the Russian Far East and Siberia, hauling away 250-year-old Korean pines in often-illegal deals, according to trading companies and environmentalists. In the highlands of Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Africa and in the forests of the Amazon, loggers working beyond the bounds of the law have sent a ceaseless flow of timber to China.
Some of the largest swaths of natural forest left on the planet are being dismantled at an alarming pace to feed a global wood-processing industry centered in coastal China.
At the current pace of cutting, natural forests in Indonesia and Burma -- which send more than half their exported logs to China -- will be exhausted within a decade, according to research by Forest Trends, a consortium of industry and conservation groups. Forests in Papua New Guinea will be consumed in as little as 13 years, and those in the Russian Far East within two decades.
More than 1 billion people in poor countries depend on forests or their livelihoods, according to the World Bank. As forests are degraded, and as logging proceeds on steep slopes, allowing soil to wash away, communities are suffering from flooding, forest fires and a dearth of game. "Whole ecosystems are being wiped out," said Horst Weyerhaeuser, a forester with the World Agroforestry Center research group who advise the Chinese government. Meanwhile, the spoils of the timber trade are monopolized by those who control the trees, typically local authorities acting with military groups.
Posted By Megan Liddle at 10:47am on April 02, 2007
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