Demand for Chinese Rosewood Surges, Drives Deforestation in Asia

22 July 2014

We are inclined to think that trees are a renewable natural resource. Yet precious hardwood trees have already been almost completely logged out from many countries across the tropics. Myanmar is the latest country to experience the insatiable demand for its precious rosewood.

Rosewood, also known as bois de rose, is an umbrella term for a whole group of tropical timber species, mostly from the genus Dalbergia, Pterocarpus, Diospyros, and Milletia, which all have a dark red hue and high quality timber in common. The vast majority of rosewood is imported to China where it’s fashioned into luxurious, highly-priced ornamental furniture in the Ming and Quing dynasty style.

Myanmar, one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in Asia, has also several species of rosewood highly prized by the Chinese furniture trade. Even though Myanmar’s forest and hardwood stocks have been diminishing for several decades already (less than 10% of the land is now forested, the rosewood logging and smuggling has increased to an unprecedented level in the last three years.

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