Illegal Deforestation Problem in Siberia

6 July 2014

Illegal logging is taking a huge toll on forests around the world. Accurate estimates are hard to come by since governments tend to underestimate volumes harvested in effort to save face, but a report issued by the World Bank in 2012 pegged the losses in assets and revenue due to illegal logging at $10 billion annually. This translates into the destruction of a piece of forest the size of a football field every two seconds.

In response, many countries such as the U.S. and members of the E.U have banned the import of timber whose legal harvest cannot be verified. While the efficacy of this is somewhat contentious – for instance, lumber made of ground-up wood such as particleboard is very difficult to identify to species, requiring expensive and time-consuming lab analysis – it has reduced demand somewhat.

However, Japan has made no strides to reduce its import of illegal timber. Instead, it is knowingly importing mass quantities of wood sourced from vulnerable forests in Siberia, according to a report recently issued by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

The report found that wood harvested from Russia’s far east is sent to China where it is made into edge-glued lumber, 90 percent of which is then exported to Japan for construction purposes.

“The no questions asked market for wood products in Japan is fueling rampant illegal logging in eastern Russia,” said Kate Horner, Director of Forest Campaigns at EIA.

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