Group Says China Fueling Global Illegal Timber Trade

Posted November 29th, 2012 at 8:55 am (UTC-5)
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A top environmental group says China is fueling the global illegal timber trade as it tries to power its rapidly growing economy.

A report by the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency said China's “insatiable appetite for raw material” is also “effectively exporting deforestation around the world.”

It said China, the world's second largest economy, is the single largest international consumer of illegal timber. It estimates that at least a tenth of the 180 million cubic meters of wood it imported last year came from illegal sources.

The EIA said other major timber consumers, such as the United States and European Union, have taken steps to ban illegal logging. But it accused China of a “stated unwillingness to explicitly prohibit illegal timber trade.”

Responding to the report on Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei stressed Beijing's desire to work with the international community to protect forests.

“We resolutely oppose and crack down on the illegal felling of timber and relevant trading behavior. We will stick to our strategy of cooperation on the management of mutually beneficial, win-win, and sustainable development of forest resources.”

The EIA did praise China for taking “visible and laudable” steps to protect and re-grow its own forests. But it said China has simultaneously “nurtured a vast and ravenous wood processing industry reliant on importing most of its raw materials.”

The report, based on the findings of Interpol, the World Bank and others, also said China's demand for timber has fueled conflict in Burma, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and parts of Africa.