Forest Legislations 3
Greenpeace is campaigning for a ban on phthalates in toys marketed in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) countries of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. Phthalates is a family of toxic, synthetic, high production volume industrial chemicals used mostly to make plastics softer and more flexible. (Relevant story: NRDC and Scientists Urge CPSC to Finalize Phthalate Bans)
The largest hardwood flooring retailer in the United States, Lumber Liquidators, agreed to plead guilty to several violations of the Lacey Act. The company will have to pay a combined $13.2 million for importing illegally harvested timber from areas including forests in far eastern Russia and other compliance issues. The raids that led to the charges followed investigations and reports by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and WWF. Lumber Liquidators faces separate allegations that it imported laminated wood products with illegal levels of formaldehyde.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) is working with environmentalists to combat illegal logging in the country’s Far East. Activists from WWF described long term collaboration with officials from Russia’s former KGB service in the effort to combat corruption and illegal timber exports as “unusual” but also unavoidable. WWF has been providing training for local customs officials on how to spot illegal species. A 2013 report by the Environmental Investigation Agency estimated that 96% of the valuable hardwoods harvested in the Russian Far East end up in China, while at least 80% of all felled trees have been logged illegally.
China's Heilongjiang province, which borders Russia to its north and east, contains 18.5 million hectares of state forest - more natural forest than any other province in the country. However, since the mid-twentieth century, Heilongjiang has had over 600 million cubic meters of timber extracted from its woodlands. Now, China is trying out a complete ban on commercial logging in the province's state-owned forests. Forestry experts predict that this trial ban will allow forests to regenerate hence, replenishing timber supplies, but will also push the industry to focus on improved forest management. According to the State Forestry Administration, to ensure that the ban is enforced and implemented over its intended time frame, the central Chinese government has allocated 2.35 billion yuan ($375 million) per year to cover forestry workers’ living costs between 2014 and 2020. If the ban succeeds, it could be extended throughout northeastern China and Inner Mongolia.
China has halted commercial logging by state firms in forests in the vast north-eastern province of Heilongjiang bordering Russia, home to much of the country’s timber industry, a move experts see as a significant step to curb over-exploitation of timber. The central government has allocated 2.35bn yuan a year to cover forestry workers’ living costs between 2014 and 2020. During the last century, warfare and unrest depleted and damaged the forests. More recently, economic growth has taken a further toll. There are concerns about the long-term ecological impacts if management of the forests does not improve with the region being an important agricultural zone and concerns about deforestation disrupting rainfall patterns.