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Posts Tagged ‘Illegal Logging’

The Stolen Forests

Posted by feww on October 18, 2008

Inside the covert war on illegal logging

by Raffi Khatchadourian


Timber in the train station at Suifenhe, China. The country is now the world’s largest importer of logs and exporter of finished wood products. Photograph by Lu Guang. Source: The New Yorker. Image may b e subject to copyright.

The town of Suifenhe, a former Russian imperial outpost on the Trans-Siberian Railway, has belonged to China since the nineteen-forties, and occupies a broad valley in northern Manchuria. From a distance, its homes and factories appear to cling to a rail yard, with tracks fanning out into a vast latticework of iron as they emerge from the Russian border. Suifenhe is a place of singular purpose. Nearly every train from Russia brings in just one commodity: wood—oak, ash, linden, and other high-value species. There is also poplar, aspen, and larch, and occasionally great trunks of Korean pine, a species that was logged by the Soviets until there was almost none left to cut down. In a year, more than five billion pounds of wood cross over from Primorski Krai, the neighboring province in the Russian Far East. Hundreds of railcars enter Suifenhe every day, many loaded beyond capacity with logs. The wood is shuttled between mills by hand, often six men to a log. Other workers, many of whom are migrants from elsewhere in China, operate cranes to empty the rail carriages, and at sundown they bring the machinery to rest, with beams pointing upward, like arms outstretched, waiting for the rush of timber that will arrive the following day. More…

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