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Deforestation on the Rise: Illegally Cut Timber Being Used to Produce Fancy Furniture

Nov 02, 2015 03:11 PM EST
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Fancy furniture comes at a much higher price than any sale tag may lead you to believe. That's because illegal loggers are raiding ecologically important forests around the world for timber to be used to produce expensive furniture and flooring.

Indonesia is one of the leading timber export countries, bringing in nearly $10 billion a year. But it also has the world's highest rate of deforestation, according the University of Maryland's  2014 study. Much of this tree loss is illegal and taking place in what are supposed to be protected areas, resulting in significant habitat loss for native wildlife, such as orangutans.

A 2009 law which established the Timber Legality Assurance System (SVLK) aims to reducing illegal logging but illegal loggers have found a loophole: Those trees that are cut down during forest clearing for palm oil plantations or mining can be sold without being certified under the SVLK.  

"There are always actors in Indonesia who will go out with no authorization at all and do things like log high-value trees in national parks or in buffer zones," Jago Wadley, senior forest campaigner for the Environmental Investigation Agency, explained in a statement. "In some cases there are individuals who will go into national parks or other protected areas and clear large areas for agriculture. That might be oil palm or other crops."

Illegal logging for fancy furniture production is also a problem in China, where laws have been established in attempt to preserve the world's vital forests. This includes the Myanmar's Forest Law, which protects teak trees and other species. But illegal logging of teak trees remains a problem; the wood culled illegally and exported to eastern China where it is made into redwood chairs, tables or chests.  

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