Increasing demand for wood by China's booming construction and furniture industries is endangering huge areas of Russia's Siberian forests, despite pledges by the respective governments to protect environmentally sensitive areas, forestry experts from the two countries claim, according to The Standard.
Russia, home to one-fifth of the world's forests, supplies about half of China's fast-growing raw timber imports, more than the next 12 suppliers combined. China now trails only the United States as a wood consumer. It has surpassed Japan as the biggest consumer of Russian wood and its appetite for forestry products is expected to continue growing rapidly.
With at least half of Russia's timber production illegal, the environmental impact is expected to worsen dramatically without concerted action by the two governments. The destructive practices have an impact far beyond Siberia, as the forest fires and deforestation stemming from the area's poor logging practices are suspected of being one of the factors contributing to global warming.