Activists: China at Center of Illegal Timber Trade

The London-based group Environmental Investigation Agency has issued a report which says that China’s voracious demand for wood is being met by countries which illegally log timber for export, and that China’s government is turning a blind eye to the practice. From ABC News:

Countries as far away as Mozambique in Africa and the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific as well as Myanmar, Laos and other Chinese neighbors are felling rare hardwoods and other trees at unsustainable rates to fulfill Chinese demand, said the report from the Environmental Investigation Agency, a London-based activist group.

In some countries, the EIA found that Chinese buyers were undermining international agreements to stop illegal logging and the exports of rare species by making payoffs and using smuggling networks.

“These investigations reveal how Chinese traders thrive on crime, corruption, the purchase of political patronage and poor forest governance in the producer countries from which they source,” said the report. It later said “China’s government has done virtually nothing to curb illegal imports, while putting in place policies to ensure supply from some of the worst illegal logging hotspots in the world.”

Chinese government agencies declined initial comment, saying they had not seen the report and asking for questions be submitted in writing. In the past, the government has responded to criticisms that China is preying on developing nations’ raw materials by saying the trade is mutually beneficial, generating income and jobs for the suppliers.

Logging in Myanmar by Chinese companies who dodge environmental restrictions at home has been cited as a source of tension between the two countries.

The full EIA report can be downloaded here. They have also produced a video on this topic:

This is not the first time that China has been accused of enabling illegal logging practices. In 1995 the WWF issued a report which claimed Chinese demand was decimating forests around the world. Read more about logging and deforestation in China and globally, via CDT.

November 29, 2012 10:54 AM
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