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Siberian and Russian Far East Timber for China: Legal and Illegal Pathways, Players, and Trends

By Anatoly Lebedev - Bureau for Regional Outreach Campaigns
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The preservation and sustainable use of Siberian and Russian Far East (RFE) forests is of global
importance for a number of reasons. Yet, these forests, which are the traditional environments of many endangered species and indigenous tribes, are now supplying timber to nearby regions and countries that have largely destroyed their own forests. The vast forests of Asian Russia act as reservoirs for one – seventh of the global carbon pool. Russia holds 75 percent of the carbon stored by all of the world’s boreal forests; thus, deforestation is the second largest source of carbon dioxide emissions, after fossil fuel combustion, in Russia, as it is worldwide. Properly conserved, Russian forests act as a critical green
lung for the Earth, second only to Brazil’s Amazon. The atmospheric carbon sink process, however, occurs much more slowly in the taiga than in the tropical rainforest as does the process of carbon exportation from organic changes. As a result, this source of carbon storage will also be more slowly restored to its initial function after broad-scale commercial logging or forest fires than in tropical forests.