23 Oct 2015:
Powerful Foreign Companies
Behind Much of Laos' Illegal Deforestation
Illegal logging in Laos by a large Vietnamese company
Industrial-scale illegal logging is routine in Laos, a southeast Asian nation which has seen its dense forest cover decline from 29 to 8.2 percent over the past decade, and the practice is gaining momentum under the guise of special infrastructure projects, according to information obtained
by the London-based advocacy group Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). In 2013, Laos exported 1.8 million cubic yards of timber to Vietnam and China — more than 10 times the country’s official harvest, EIA found. Trade data also show that in 2014 China received $1 billion in illegal timber from Laos — a 22-fold increase from 2008. The high figures imply that the bulk of this timber is composed of valuable rosewood species, which are supposedly protected under Lao law. Virtually all logging operations are linked to infrastructure projects, especially hydropower dams, roads, mining, and agricultural plantations, EIA says, and it appears that powerful international companies are given free rein to log wherever they choose, targeting Laos' most valuable timber.
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