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Western Demand Drives Increase In Chinese Timber Imports

Environmental campaigners increasingly pointed to the impact of Chinese demand on Russia's vast forests (pictured), and local authorities in the Russian Far East have moved to crack down on illegal logging.
by Staff Writers
Geneva (AFP) Oct 10, 2006
Western demand for Chinese furniture has fuelled a increase of more than threefold in China's wood imports, and illegal timber from Russia's vast forests is helping to sustain the industry, a United Nations agency said on Tuesday. In a report on China's influence on the timber market, the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) said that the Russian Far East represented the major source of raw materials for the Chinese industry, which has also become the world's leading exporter of forest products.

"China's own forests meet only a small part of its industrial roundwood appetite, with the result that China is now the world's number one importer of logs, both softwood and roundwood," said the UNECE, whose research focuses largely on Europe's former communist bloc.

"Russia is the main source of softwood logs, supplying about 70 percent of China's needs. A small part of China's imports is of certified origin but it does seem that a significant share may be from illegal sources."

China imported 232.6 million cubic tonnes of timber in 2005, an increase of 233 percent compared with the 1997 figure, the agency said. It did not provide an estimate for illegal imports.

Environmental campaigners increasingly pointed to the impact of Chinese demand on Russia's vast forests, and local authorities in the Russian Far East have moved to crack down on illegal logging.

China's wood product exports have increased by 360 percent since 1997, and were worth a total of 16.4 billion dollars in 2005, said the UNECE.

The vast majority of the exports are made up of furniture, and China is now the top supplier for the United States, it said.

Chinese-made furniture also accounts for one third of the European market, said the UNECE.

Rising living standards in China mean that domestic consumers purchase around 75 percent of total production, it said.

earlier related report
No Timber Procurement By China In Russia
St. Petersburg (RIA Novosti) Oct 11 - The issue of China procuring timber on Russian territory has not been and will not be discussed, the head of Russia's Federal Forestry Agency said Tuesday. Russia's annual exports to China amount to 15 million cubic meters of rough timber (37% of Russia's round wood exports). China's share in Russian needle wood exports is 45%.

"The Chinese side has not raised the issue of timber procurement on Russian territory," Valery Roshchupkin said, commenting on media reports that it was possible. "The issue has not been discussed at any leadership level and will not be."

Roshchupkin said the issue of building a paper mill in Russia was discussed with China, but added the Asian giant has not yet made the final decision.

"If such an enterprise appears, it will obtain its forest resource for processing on the basis of a competition," he said.

Russia currently has 43 joint forest projects with China, producing 1.9 million cubic meters of timber annually.

Source: RIA Novosti

Source: Agence France-Presse

Related Links
UN Economic Commission for Europe
Save the Forests at Wood Pile

Central American Fires Impact US Air Quality And Climate
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Oct 11, 2006
A NASA-funded study published in the July 26, 2006 Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres found that during April-May 2003, large amounts of smoke, which include aerosols -- tiny particles suspended in the air -- from biomass burning in the Yucatan Peninsula and southern Mexico reached Texas, Oklahoma, and other areas in the southeastern United States.

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