The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Chinese demand drives global deforestation


This is an excerpt from an article I found at Yahoo. If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to the full article.

Chinese demand drives global deforestation

By Tansa MusaSun Jun 10, 7:46 PM ET

From outside, Cameroon's Ngambe-Tikar forest looks like a compact, tangled mass of healthy emerald green foliage.

But tracks between the towering tropical hardwood trees open up into car park-sized clearings littered with logs as long as buses.

Forestry officers say the reserve is under attack from unscrupulous commercial loggers who work outside authorized zones and do not respect size limits in their quest for maximum financial returns.

"I lack words to describe what is going on here," says Richard Greine, head of the local forestry post, 350 km (220 miles) north of Cameroon's capital Yaounde.

"Both illegal and authorized exploiters have staged a hold-up on the forest."

From central Africa to the Amazon basin and Indonesia's islands, the world's great forests are being lost at an annual rate of at least 13 million hectares (32 million acres) -- an area the size of Greece or Nicaragua.

The timber business is worth billions of dollars annually, and experts say few industries that size are as murky as the black market in wood.

Evidence of rampant deforestation around the globe points in one direction: booming demand in China, where economic growth is fuelling a timber feeding frenzy.

In just the past decade, China has grown from importing wood products for domestic use to become the world's leading exporter of furniture, plywood and flooring.

Chinese firms might not be chopping down the trees themselves, but their insatiable appetite is driving up prices, spurring loggers to open more tracks like those torn through Ngambe-Tikar and drawing huge global investment to the companies.

COLONIAL RELICS

In Mande village on the fringe of the Cameroon jungle, Pierre, a hunter dressed in tattered shorts and T-shirt, does not know that more than half his country's original forest cover has been cut down in his lifetime.

But he knows the local eco-system has been ravaged.

Once upon a time, wild animals would sometimes stroll right into his compound. "These days you don't see any. They don't fall into our traps anymore. You need to go very far, deep in the forest to see or catch one," he tells Reuters.

As usual, it is the poorest who pay.

In nearby Democratic Republic of Congo, the lure of timber wealth has seen loggers accused of cheating villagers with deals activists say are a "shameful relic of colonial times."

A two-year investigation by Greenpeace accused companies, mostly from Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Singapore and the United States, of illegally acquiring titles to about 15 million hectares (37 million acres) of Congolese rainforest after a 2002 moratorium.

In return for small gifts such as farm tools, bags of salt and cases of beer, the firms won logging rights worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, the probe found.

The biggest target of the loggers is Afromosia, or African teak, which can sell for hundreds of dollars a cubic meter.

Locals in one village, Lamoko, Greenpeace says, gave away thousands of hectares for presents worth only about $20,000.

Depressingly similar accusations mar the logging industry in Brazil, home to most of the Amazon basin -- the planet's largest remaining tropical rainforest.

FOREIGN MERCENARIES

About a fifth of Brazil's Amazon has already been destroyed, and Chinese demand for commodities such as iron ore, bauxite and especially soy, has been a big factor in pushing the country's agricultural frontier further north.

Most illegal logging is done by Brazilians, either poor migrants from the dry northeast or cattle ranchers and soy farmers coming in from the south.

The government has long been criticized for deforestation and has a very public policy of stopping illegal clearing and slowing clearing rates overall. But the frontier area is very remote, and police are underfunded, disorganized and often corrupt.

Spinning the globe further west, the problem is perhaps even more acute in Indonesia.

Without drastic action, the United Nations says, 98 percent of its remaining forests will be gone by 2022, with dire consequences for local people and wildlife, including endangered rhinos, tigers and orangutans.

2 comments:

Zen said...

I did a report on the rainforest for a college class. It is so sad that it seems mankind is determined to distroy our only place to live, out of greed, and stupidity

Rick said...

I don't know that it's so black and white. At the end of the day, the people on the ground are trying to make a living with what's at hand.