Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Wood Racket

Stacks of wood for sale on Calle 13 in central Bogotá.
If you decided to buy a wooden table rather than a plastic or metal one because, being biodegradable, it's 'greener', perhaps you should reconsider.

Illegally cut? Stacks of recently cut lumber. (Photo: La Nacion)
According to a recent report from the World Wildlife Fund, 75% of lumber harvested in Colombia is done so illegally, so that table top may have a criminal history. The illegal logging contributes to Colombia's galloping deforestation rate of close to a half million hectares per year. Even so, illegal logging accounts for only about a quarter of Colombia's deforestation, most of which is caused by land clearing for agriculture, including illegal drug crops, according to Jesus Orlando Rangel, who studies natural history and the environment at the Universidad Nacional, in Bogotá.

Deforested land, which quickly turns into desert.
The statistics, naturally, are in dispute. The World Bank pegs the proportion of illegally-cut wood at only 42%. And the government calculates deforestation at the still horrific rate of 'only' about 240,000 hectares per year.

Who's to blame for this? Corruption, lack of rule of law, violent illegal groups...the whole mix of Colombian problems - problems we can only hope get resolved before the trees run out.

Lumber for sale in central Bogotá. Cut legally?
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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