Illegal Loggers Threaten to Devastate Forests in the Russian Far East
According to the official estimates, at least one third of the total timber exports are illegal.
VLADIVOSTOK. December 14. VOSTOK-MEDIA – Primorsky Krai forests are threatened with illegal wood-felling, Alfonso Daniels, a reporter at BBC Russian Service, reported.
According to the official estimates, at least one third of the total timber exports are illegal. Moreover, from 2005 to 2007 the illegal timber trade has increased twofold.
This is a very lucrative business. After China experienced severe flooding 10 years ago, the Chinese authorities prohibited to harvest trees on its territory. Presently the country imports about 60% of the total wood logs produced in the world.
Russia produces about 10 million cubic meters of timber yearly, which is three times less than that of Amazonia.
According to analysts at the international consortium of timber growers and environmental organizations Forest Trends, within 30 years the illegal wood-felling may destroy the largest wooded area in the world.
Illegal wood-felling is mainly undertaken by small groups consisting of several people. Illegal loggers usually carry weapons and use silent chainsaws you can’t hear beyond a 10-12 meter radius. In addition, they post around guards equipped with satphones so that they could give a warning if someone approaches. When wood logs are delivered to a timber mill, criminals legalize their goods by bribing officials.
Nowhere are the results of illegal loggers are so exuberant as in remote villages of Primorsky Krai, the safe haven of the Siberian tiger.
I went to see one of the places of illegal wood-felling on the invitation of the renowned environmental activist, a retired law enforcement officer Anatoly Lebedev.
According to him, the devastating activity of illegal loggers is most noticeable in the northern regions of Primorsky Krai.
“These forests just seem to be normal, but in fact they are dead. Illegal loggers cut down only the most valuable species, such as Korean pines, oaks and limes. These trees are of considerable importance for ecosystem preservation. This is just dreadful,” Lebedev said.
Omnipotent leaders of Russian Mafia buy baronial houses in Dalnerechensk with the money derived from the illegal lucrative business.
Alexander von Bismarck, a spokesman for non-for-profit Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), believes that the major portion of the money ends up in the hands of Chinese businessmen and dons.
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