As China Builds, Cambodia’s Forests Fall

Michael Sullivan at National Public Radio describes how Cambodia’s forests are falling prey to China’s enormous demand for lumber:

“It’s just like in the United States in the 1960s, when every single redwood tree was a target for illegal logger[s],” says Suwanna Gauntlett, head of the Phnom Penh office of Wildlife Alliance. “It’s the same thing in Cambodia. It’s a natural resource worth a lot of money.”

And many people with money — particularly China’s growing middle class — are eager to spend it on luxury hardwood furniture, says Tracy Farrell of Conservation International.

“You also have the fact that other countries have been culling or reducing the extraction of their own luxury wood,” Farrell says. “Thailand has been becoming much more strict about illegal wood leaking out of their country, so that puts the pressure on the countries that are less strict. … Laos and Cambodia are really, really struggling.”

The Globe and Mail’s Mark MacKinnon (via CDT) told a similar story in 2011, in which forestry regulations in Yunnan had driven loggers across the border to Myanmar. “Soon the trees will be all cut,” a manager at one logging firm told him. “Without the trees, there will be only mountains. So we will look into mining them.”


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