China’s insatiable demand for timber in recent years has begun to overwhelm the countries supplying its timber, including Russia, according to a New York Times report.
Russia has been disgorging huge quantities of lumber to China (200 million cubic meters in 2017 alone), according to the article, depleting forests in Siberia and selling the material at a low cost. The large amount of logging in Russia has begun to spur protests in the country.
China, which restricted logging in many of its own natural forests decades ago, has also turned to Peru, Papua New Guinea, Mozambique and Myanmar in its quest to meet its timber demand, and in the process has become the largest importer and exporter of wood in the world. The value of its timber imports has grown more than 10 times since 1998, reaching $23 billion in 2017.
As imports flow into China, the logging practice in Russia has developed a reputation for exploiting lax oversight for illegally logged wood, according to the report. The corruption has sparked outrage in the country, with Russian President Vladimir Putin calling the Russia’s forest industry “a very corrupt sector” in December.
The full NYT report can be found here.