Four Corners - Timber Mafia, The
It’s boom-time in the worldwide timber smuggling racket.
Swathes of “protected” forests in Asia, Africa and South America are being illegally cut and shipped abroad for use in building materials, furniture and sundry items like billiard cues and picture frames. It’s a $20 billion a year trade, a highly organised crime that not only destroys entire eco-systems and increases global warming but also deals ruthlessly with anyone standing in its way.
Four Corners follows the illegal timber trail from one of its main sources, Indonesia, where 70 per cent of all logging is thought to be illegal, to its ultimate destination in the west.
The trail starts in Kalimantan province where regional warlords are tearing away the jungle habitat of endangered orang utans. Kidnapping, bribery and standover tactics are the warlords’ means of doing business.
On the demand side, few questions are asked. The wood comes cheaply and, for the time being anyway, plentifully enough. The reality, as McDonell’s report shows, is that the timber mafia flourish amid the complexity of international legal jurisdictions and trading rules. Only co-ordinated international and local action will defeat the timber mafia – unless the timber runs out first.
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