Monday, January 23, 2017

Chinese Demand for Bloodwood Raises Environmental Issues in DRC

Sixth Tone, an online publication in China that belongs to the state-funded Shanghai United Media Group, published on 20 January 2017 an article titled "Chinese Demand for Bloodwood Cuts into Congo's Ecosystem" by Shi Yi.

Bloodwood or rosewood is the common name for the mukula tree. The red-tinted wood is used in China to manufacture high grade furniture. About ten Chinese-owned bloodwood trading companies operate out of Lubumbashi, some of the companies having left Zambia because of stricter environmental laws or diminishing availability of the mukula tree. Environmentalists and some DRC officials are beginning to express concern at the impact on forests by the cutting of the tree. DRC laws ban foreigners from operating logging concessions but a combination of corruption and desire by local officials to create jobs for African wood cutters has ignored the ban. The government of China has put in place reasonable voluntary guidelines for Chinese timber companies, but these guidelines are often ignored. Chinese companies can import the timber into China so long as they provide documents to show it was exported legally--documents that can be purchased easily in the DRC. At some point, the timber will be gone and the logging will end, with a negative impact on the DRC's ecosystem.

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