Russia’s Siberian Forests in Danger

The Krasnoyarsk region in Siberia is Russia’s most significant timber-producing area, which is saying something in a massive country 70 percent covered by forest. But the region’s forests are threatened from all sides, say activists. Illegal logging is rampant; in fact, up to 30 percent of all logging in Russia is illegal, says Yevgeny Shvarts of the World Wildlife Fund. Also, there were more than 2,000 fires in the region last year, most from arson, which, combined with the scarily named Siberian bombyx parasite, have devastated large forest tracts. But worst of all, say Russian enviros, is the forestry code currently being drafted by the Russian government, which would privatize forest areas. Russians whose livelihoods depend on harvesting cedar kernels, mushrooms, and berries could be blocked from the woods, while private companies could have a field day. The stakes are high: Russia currently makes $4.5 billion a year from timber exports.