Start A Petition

China at the Centre of Global Illegal Timber Trade, NGO Says

World  (tags: forests, trees, world, conservation, destruction, protection, nature, politics, environment, money, business, corruption, dishonesty, law, SustainableDevelopment, china, UnitedNations, society, HumanRights, 'HUMANRIGHTS!', asia, africa, middle-east )

- 2001 days ago -
* Illegal timber imports worth a conservative $4 bln a year * China major driver of deforestation in Africa, Asia - NGO * Group calls on China to enact tough laws (Adds Chinese Foreign Ministry comment)

Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.


JL A (281)
Saturday December 1, 2012, 10:33 am
China at the centre of global illegal timber trade, NGO says

Thu, 29 Nov 2012 08:21 GMT

Source: reuters // Reuters

A labourer works at a timber processing factory in Shenyang, in China's Liaoning province, on March 15, 2010. REUTERS/Sheng Li

* Illegal timber imports worth a conservative $4 bln a year

* China major driver of deforestation in Africa, Asia - NGO

* Group calls on China to enact tough laws (Adds Chinese Foreign Ministry comment)

By David Fogarty

SINGAPORE, Nov 29 (Reuters) - China's insatiable appetite for timber is driving a growing illegal trade that is stripping forests in Africa and Asia and fuelling conflict, underscoring the urgency for Beijing to enact laws to crack down, an environment group said on Thursday.

China is the world's top importer of illegal timber, with the trade worth about $4 billion a year, said the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

Globally, Interpol estimates total trade in illegal timber is more than $30 billion.

The EIA released its report, "Appetite for Destruction: China's Trade in Illegal Timber", in Beijing to highlight what it said was China's lack of action, in contrast to major trading partners such as the United States.

"China has built a vast wood-processing industry, reliant on imports for most of its raw materials supply. It is in effect exporting deforestation," the group said in the report.

It said China's state-owned companies played a major role in securing supplies from overseas. An EIA analysis of China's trade data for 2007 showed state-owned firms imported nearly half the volume of tropical logs that year.

The EIA, drawing on its own investigations and the work of Interpol, the World Bank and others, says China's demand for timber has fuelled conflict in Myanmar, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea as well as parts of Africa.

China's booming economy has driven demand for timber for construction.

In addition, many of its newly wealthy are splashing out on furniture, including items such as rosewood lounge sets that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, with much of the timber sourced illegally from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand or Madagascar.

In Laos, rare rosewood logs can fetch $18,000 per cubic metre and even more in neighbouring countries, says EIA. The trade is fuelling clashes between loggers and authorities.

China's rapidly growing timber imports are underpinning huge growth in exports of furniture, flooring, mouldings and paper products. Wood product exports have increased nearly seven-fold in the past decade to $34.2 billion in 2010, says EIA.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Thursday that China was willing to work with the international community to protect forests.

"We resolutely oppose and crack down on the illegal felling of timber and relevant trading behaviour," he said at a daily briefing.


Log imports in 2000 totalled 13.6 million cubic metres worth $1.6 billion. By 2011, imports totalled 42 million cubic metres worth $8.2 billion, with Russia the top log supplier last year, the United States second and Papua New Guinea third.

"More than half of China's current supplies of raw timber material are sourced from countries with a high risk of illegal logging and poor forest governance," the group said.

By contrast, China's forest cover has increased because of tough forest protection laws and replanting programmes.

The EIA estimates China imported at least 18.5 million cubic metres of illegal logs and sawn timber in 2011, worth $3.7 billion. The group said the estimate was conservative.

"Such rampant illegal trade is having a dire impact on the forests of Asia-Pacific and local communities. In the Solomon Islands, exports to China are seven times higher than the sustainable logging rate, with forests predicted to be emptied of commercial timber by 2015," the EIA said.

In Myanmar, illegal log exports to China's Yunnan province were 500,000 cubic metres by mid-2012, the EIA said. It quoted loggers as saying mountains in Myanmar were being stripped bare. This was despite 2006 agreements between both countries to halt illegal cross-border trade.

"China has an opportunity here to seriously respond to their illegally sourced imports," Faith Doherty, head of EIA's Forests Campaign, told Reuters.

She pointed to growing global action, with the United States, European Union and Australia enacting laws to ban illegal timber imports. (Additional reporting by Michael Martina in BEIJING; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Kit B (276)
Saturday December 1, 2012, 10:52 am

I wonder if the use of recycled steel, and most countries do have an abundance of steel that could be recycled for building use; might help to protect the forest land. Conversion from one way of thinking about how to meet demands and address public needs to using other resources does not come easy. The recycled steel industry has plenty of material to work with, does not use the same resources of pollutants in the processing of that steel and can be an economic boom within itself. We do so need to leave our forest land intact.

JL A (281)
Saturday December 1, 2012, 2:39 pm
Sounds like an idea that should work Kit. You cannot currently send a star to Kit because you have done so within the last week.

Roger G (154)
Sunday December 2, 2012, 12:53 am
noted, thanks !

Pogle S (88)
Monday December 3, 2012, 12:24 am
It's hardly surprising to read this now that they have joined the capitalist consumer world of ignorance about what is important.

Past Member (0)
Monday December 3, 2012, 12:46 am
Anyone surprised? Nope, me neither.

Depressing, though. As we can probably have little effect on what the Chinese do on this, as on so much else. Still, let's do whatever we can to put pressure on them to change.

Robert O (12)
Monday December 3, 2012, 1:05 am

Frans B (582)
Monday December 3, 2012, 1:47 am
noted......I'm not surprised, though I did NOT know this....thanks for posting

Giana Peranio-paz (398)
Monday December 3, 2012, 4:34 am
Noted. China is one of the worst places on earth regarding nature, environment and animals! How can they be re-educated or conditioned to stop this destruction?

Past Member (0)
Monday December 3, 2012, 5:53 am
Why must China always go for profit without care. Ruthless and wild opportunism

JL A (281)
Monday December 3, 2012, 7:13 am
You are welcome Robert and Frans! Good questions Giana and Jan.Wish I had a star to send you Giana...

JL A (281)
Monday December 3, 2012, 7:16 am
You cannot currently send a star to Roger because you have done so within the last week.

Past Member (0)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 7:16 am
Responsible timber management with an eye on future sustainability is the only way forward, parts of Scandinavia prove this.

JL A (281)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 8:07 am
Yes, proper management is viable Mark.You cannot currently send a star to Mark because you have done so within the last week.

Helen Porter (39)
Thursday February 21, 2013, 3:34 am
Or, log in with your
Facebook account:
Please add your comment: (plain text only please. Allowable HTML: <a>)

Track Comments: Notify me with a personal message when other people comment on this story

Loading Noted By...Please Wait


butterfly credits on the news network

  • credits for vetting a newly submitted story
  • credits for vetting any other story
  • credits for leaving a comment
learn more

Most Active Today in World

Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of or its affiliates.

New to Care2? Start Here.