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Extra info for Cut and Run: Illegal Logging and Timber Trade in the Tropics

Sample text

Because valuable timber has become depleted in parts of Southeast Asia and because many countries in that region have imposed log-export bans, companies from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, and Taiwan have begun exploring other continents and now operate in 20 countries in the South. Many of these companies have appalling environmental and human-rights records, and they are regularly implicated in illegal grab-and-run practices (such as in Cambodia, Guiana, Laos, Papua New Guinea, and Siberia).

This reserve extends into Uganda and contains some of the last remnants of montane rainforest in the area. The operations have extensively damaged the forest, and access roads created by the logging company have led to illegal logging and the installation of charcoal kilns. Local people are frequently harassed by loggers and local police, who have been involved in illegal felling themselves; villagers are not even allowed to use the timber waste. Wildlife has become scarce, and the local people are concerned about their water supplies and other subsistence needs and want the forest to be conserved.

Under these conditions, local people become easy prey for logging companies that offer them scant wages in return for their cooperation in cutting and hauling logs. Typically, forest dwellers are only too aware of the long-term consequences of such cutting, but having no other way to support their families, they concede — and in the longer run, they become the first victims of the degradation. Even where economic conditions are somewhat better, the value of individual tropical hardwood trees is so high (compared with what a worker can earn by typical agricultural pursuits) that logging is bound to be attractive.

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