Thursday, April 21, 2011

Unexpected consequences - illegal logging in Russia

The ban on logging in certain areas of China in 1997 following damaging floods has led to a massive increase in illegal logging in Russia. The break up of the Soviet Union only exacerbated the problem.

The Diplomat reports.

This is a standard "tragedy of the commons", "property rights", "weak institutions and rule of law", "corruption" problem. There is no simple solution.

Russia’s Far East Forest Mafia [The Diplomat]

The vast forests of Russia’s Far East are being plundered. Prompted by rising Chinese demand for timber and enabled by a culture of official corruption and fear, environmentalists say a Russian forest mafia is stripping the region of rare and valuable hardwoods, a trade that threatens the world’s last remaining populations of Siberian tigers.

In China, timber is processed into finished consumer products such as veneers, picture frames and wooden toilet seats, many of which end up on shelves in the West, the endpoint of a pernicious and largely unacknowledged global market chain. Despite statements of concern from the Russian authorities, the logging industry is ‘now beyond federal control, and overrun by criminal gangs’, according to Dark Forest, a recent TV exposé of the official corruption at the heart of the trade.


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