World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

The Numbers Game: Forest Destruction

The Numbers Game: Forest Destruction

International — Imagine a football pitch as you've seen it many times. It's a bit less than one hectare in area. Now imagine that same football pitch packed end-to-end with a pile of wood around twice the height of Mt. Everest. That's the amount of forest that is imported into China every year, and the pile is getting higher.

The developed industrial economies of North America, Europe, Japan and South Korea are timber gluttons and consume more timber than the planet can sustainably provide. That's the bad news. The worse news is that the timber over consumption habit is beginning to rub off on the emerging mega-economy of China.

A report recently released by Greenpeace called 'Sharing the Blame' shows that in the past 10 years, timber imports into China have increased by an enormous 4.5 fold to the double Mt. Everest sized pile mentioned above. This huge volume of extra timber isn't all being consumed in China however, with exports of timber products from China increasing by 3.5 fold in the same time period.

Whilst demand for timber products has risen sharply in China, the demand in the world's big industrial economies has remained at an all time high. China has become the clearinghouse for the world's timber with every second tropical tree traded in the world being sent to China. Unfortunately, much of the merchandise is stolen goods.

The forest is felled in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, where between 76 to 90 percent of the logging is illegal, and shipped to China to be processed into plywood, furniture or paper and exported to the forest hungry economies of North America, Europe, Japan and South Korea.

'Sharing the Blame' isn't only about the frightening statistics of the global timber trade; it follows the illegally logged timber from the forest to the finished product in the shops and names the companies behind the illicit trade.

After being contacted by Greenpeace and presented with the evidence, some international timber buyers have already started to address the issue of purchasing timber products made from illegal logging. Numerous companies in Europe have made commitments to stop purchasing Chinese plywood made from illegally logged timber from Papua New Guinea.

The Chinese government has also started to publicly acknowledge that consumption issues must be tackled in China. In recognition of this problem, in late March of this year, the government imposed a 5 percent consumption tax on disposable chopsticks and hardwood flooring to try to stem the tide of forest destruction.
Whilst this is a good start, the fact that so many companies internationally have been purchasing illegal timber products without knowing or caring shows that governments of the world have to get tough with the illegal logging trade and ban imports of illegal timber products.

The responsibility for ending the over-exploitation of the world's last forests is shared equally between the producer and the consumer countries. The developed industrial economies of North America, Europe, Japan and South Korea need to dramatically reduce their consumption of timber products and China needs to find a way to develop its economy without simply following the poor example of the timber gluttons.

After all the numbers are added up and put into neat rows and columns of figures, it is easy to forget that what isn't shown in the statistics are lives; people's lives and the lives of the plants and animals of the forests. And if you put everything back together, all the pieces combine to equal a couple of Mt. Everests of ancient forest disappearing before our eyes.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Rohingya Muslims Massacred: Restrictions On Aid Put 1000s At Risk

Amnesty: The Myanmar authorities’ restrictions on international aid in Rakhine state is putting tens of thousands of lives at risk in a region where mainly Rohingya people are already suffering horrific abuses from a disproportionate military campaign. More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

ALSO:

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC