Ransacking Russia’s Ancient Forests

*Each year, Man steals $400 billion of wild animals and ancient forests from Nature. In fact, 15 percent, or, 1.14 billion people, rise each morning to kill the planet. Much of this rapacious looting is controlled by organized crime.

Since 1970, 60% of wildlife on land is gone and it’s far worse under the sea, according to the 2018 Living Planet Report from the World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF). Insect populations, too, have crashed. 250 billion metric tons annually of deadly Man-made chemicals along with the accelerated ocean heat from combustion of fossil fuels have taken a hideous toll on all earth-bound life.

Beyond toxic chemicals and unrelenting heat, destruction of habitat is also accelerating globally. For example, 104 football fields a minute of ancient forests are razed, 24/7/365.

The most perfect flying rivers and CO2 warehouses, the planet’s terrestrial climate stabilizers, are under siege like never before.

No ancient forests. No animals. No insects. No freshwater. No life.

The Black Market demand for Siberian tigers is booming. These magnificent cats are condemned by poachers. Image credit: Siberian Times

Russia is home to one fifth of the world’s wild forests. They are being ransacked quickly. It’s being driven by Chinese manufacturing, which is attempting to supply the insatiable global demand for inexpensive wooden products. And organized crime is running it.

Russia is home to one fifth of the world’s wild forests. They are being ransacked quickly.”

What we do to the ancient ones, we do to ourselves. Image credit: old.forest.ru

In 2017, China reported $82 billion in timber product, sales an increase of 12 percent from the previous year. At least one third of that timber  came from plundering ancient Russian forests. Russian poachers receive 10 times the value of the wood from Chinese corporations compared to the pay scale of Far East legal loggers. The felling of Russia’s ancient ones are unregulated and unreported. A lot of cash is changing hands. Untraceable.

Caption: Each year, millions of Russian ancient ones are stolen by ruthless poachers. Image credit: lentachel.ru

The number of Chinese wood processing factories in Russia has ballooned. In 2008, there were 152 Chinese forestry companies. Today, there are 564 huge Chinese forestry factories. They are expanding rapidly.

Siberian larch can easily reach 175 feet. Remarkably, these prized ones can withstand minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Image credit: etianen.fi

The glorious subarctic slow growing Siberian deciduous larch are the world’s cold hardy masterpieces. They are being felled at a furious pace, 24/7. WWF Russia warned that all the Soviet ancient forests were doomed by 2030 (or soon thereafter).

As these masterpieces (including pines, spruce, oaks, Eurasian aspens, birch and poplars) crash to the earth, so too do the rarest and most elusive species of big cats, the Siberian tigers. With fewer than 500 left it’s a race to extinction. Logging decimates the cat’s food supply of red deer and wild boar, that feed on pine nuts and acorns.

The supreme Siberian cat is the largest and heaviest of all 9 subspecies of tigers. Image credit: Nat Geo

As if this appalling poaching was not bad enough, China recently greenlighted the use of tiger bones and rhino horns for legalized medicinals. Harmony.  In so doing, China has hastened the extinction of all tigers and rhinos. Insane.

Incidentally, no medicines are derived from cooking tiger bones nor grinding horns into powder. Rhino horns are comprised of keratin, the same compound as human fingernails. Nonsense.

When the ancient Russian forests are defiled, the critically endangered Siberian tigers die. Image credit: Sierra Club

An epic ecological disaster is accelerating across northern Russia. Siberia’s ancient ones are now in the wanton hands of cutthroat Chinese businessmen. Eastern Siberia is one massive sprawling clearcut. Instead of these masterpieces removing CO2 from the atmosphere and modifying the climate, the exposed soils are warming and exhaling more CO2 into an overburdened and overheated atmosphere.

“If you are there you see the actual corruption and the way that the Chinese factories work and the way the mafia’s cutting down the forest, each step you realize that cash being delivered in a suitcase is coming, from you, wouldn’t be there otherwise. It’s the demand that is driving it,” remarked Sasha Von Bismarck of the Environmental Investigation Agency.

Von Bismarck spent three years tracking wood from the Russian Far East to a Chinese company, Xingjia, with offices in Vancouver, British Columbia. From there, he flew to China posing as a businessman, and discovered that Xingjia was a principal supplier of wood for Virginia-based Lumber Liquidator and its 383 locations across North America.

Similar to Man’s unique fingerprint, no two Siberian tigers have the same striped pattern, Image credit: Flickr

Von Bismarck used official trade documents to identify about 30 Russian trading companies and concession holders that sold to Xingjia. He found that Russian suppliers “had links to recent illegal logging cases, bribery, and one supplier was sanctioned in 2010 for illegal logging and was the subject of a criminal investigation in the Russian Far East.” Von Bismarck’s persistence worked. On February 1, 2016, Lumber Liquidators was sentenced to $13.2 million in fines and forfeitures for importing illegal Far East Russian wood and submitting false declarations under the Lacey Act, a conservation law that stipulates it is a crime to import plants and animals taken in violation of state and foreign laws. Lumber Liquidators received a five-year probation whereby they must implement a strict environmental compliance plan.

There are at least two things that each of us can do to slow this horrendous destruction of Nature.

Refuse to be a sociopathic consumer. Consume less. Each day, spend 30 minutes next to a big tree and breathe its salubrious free medicinials.

Switch to a plant-based diet. It’s the single biggest thing that each of us can do to fight the Man-made climate crisis. Animal agriculture produces more climate destroying greenhouse gases than the entire global transportation sector.

The time is now to engage in resistance!



Dr. Reese Halter

Dr Reese Halter is an award-winning broadcaster, distinguished conservation biologist and author.

Dr Reese Halter’s latest book is
Love! Nature

Tweet @RelentlessReese

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