AboutZoos, Since 2008


Amur tigers see their Russ­ian habi­tat destruc­ted by ille­gal logging

pub­lished 17 April 2013 | mod­i­fied 05 April 2014

Amurtiger sredneussuriiskyThe forests of the Russ­ian Far East are being pushed to the brink of destruc­tion due to per­va­sive, large-​scale ille­gal log­ging, largely to sup­ply Chi­nese fur­ni­ture and floor­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers, accord­ing to a new report by WWF-​Russia.

This wide­spread tim­ber theft is threat­en­ing the long-​term sur­vival of the endan­gered Amur tiger, while pro­vid­ing a con­duit for ille­gal tim­ber to find its way into the United States, Europe and Japan.

In the report, Ille­gal Log­ging in the Russ­ian Far East: Global Demand and Taiga Destruc­tion, WWF-​Russia syn­the­sises more than 10 years of on-​the-​ground field obser­va­tions and high­lights a sober­ing real­ity: Russia’s for­est sec­tor has become deeply crim­i­nalised, with poor law enforce­ment, allow­ing ille­gal log­gers to plun­der valu­able tim­ber stocks of oak, ash, elm and lin­den with impunity.

The scope and scale of ille­gal log­ging in the Ussuri Taiga is imper­il­ing the long-​term sur­vival of the Amur tiger and the liveli­hoods of thou­sands of for­est vil­lagers and indige­nous peoples
Niko­lay Shmatkov, WWF-​Russia For­est Pol­icy Projects Coordinator »

“With min­i­mal resources in place to detect and pros­e­cute ille­gal log­ging through­out the region, the sheer scale of vio­la­tions has reached epi­demic pro­por­tions.”

WWF analy­sis of Russ­ian cus­toms data revealed that in 2010, the vol­ume of Mon­go­lian oak logged for export was twice the amount legally autho­rised for har­vest from the region — mean­ing that at least half of the oak shipped across the bor­der to China was stolen. Fur­ther analy­sis of export data showed that 2010 was a mild year: in 2007 and 2008 the oak har­vest was four times as large.

The report also finds that, although there are a few pos­i­tive exam­ples of suc­cess­ful Russ­ian for­est law enforce­ment actions, the pro­por­tion of reg­is­tered ille­gal log­ging vio­la­tions brought to trial is extremely low. In 2011, only 16 per­cent of the 691 reg­is­tered cases of ille­gal log­ging in Pri­morsky Province were brought to trial — the low­est fig­ure in the past 10 years.

Ille­gal log­ging degrades vital habi­tat for Amur tigers and their prey. Sci­en­tists esti­mate around 450 Amur tigers remain in the wild. Over har­vest­ing lim­its the sup­ply of pine nuts and acorns — a main food source for their prey. As tim­ber sup­plies dwin­dle, eco­log­i­cally sen­si­tive forests like wildlife reserves are increas­ingly threat­ened.

While WWF is work­ing in Rus­sia to sug­gest mea­sures the gov­ern­ment can take to end ille­gal log­ging from the sup­ply side, import­ing nations must take action as well. In par­tic­u­lar, the report high­lights the need for strength­ened col­lab­o­ra­tion between Rus­sia and China to ensure bet­ter tim­ber track­ing between the two coun­tries. In addi­tion, the United States, Euro­pean Union and other coun­tries with tim­ber legal­ity leg­is­la­tion must ensure that those laws are ade­quately enforced. Com­pa­nies in import­ing com­pa­nies must be sure of the for­est ori­gin, legal­ity and trace­abil­ity of their wood products.

There is a sig­nif­i­cant risk that US and EU com­pa­nies and con­sumers could be pur­chas­ing fur­ni­ture and floor­ing made with wood from ille­gal sources
« Linda Walker, for­est pro­gram man­ager for WWF-​US

It’s crit­i­cal for com­pa­nies to ensure that they are sourc­ing wood prod­ucts from legal and respon­si­ble sources, or they risk vio­lat­ing their cus­tomers’ trust and seri­ously degrad­ing habi­tat.”

The report urges importers of Chi­nese or Russ­ian hard­wood fur­ni­ture and floor­ing to con­firm the species and coun­try of wood ori­gin, as Russ­ian species can be mis­la­beled as orig­i­nat­ing from other coun­tries. For prod­ucts made with Russ­ian oak, ash, elm, or lin­den, com­pa­nies should exclu­sively pur­chase For­est Stew­ard­ship Coun­cil (FSC)-certified prod­ucts.

If FSC-​certified prod­ucts are not avail­able, com­pa­nies should estab­lish rig­or­ous legal­ity and trace­abil­ity con­fir­ma­tion sys­tems. If nei­ther approach is pos­si­ble, buy­ers should avoid any prod­ucts made from Russ­ian Far East hard­woods due to the high risks of illegality.

The above news item is reprinted from mate­ri­als avail­able at WWF­global. Orig­i­nal text may be edited for con­tent and length.

(Source: WWF global news, 16.04.2013)

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Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

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