Rising Chinese demand for wood and the developed world's desire for cheap wood products are fueling the illegal timber trade and the destruction of ancient forests in the Asia-Pacific region, the environmental group Greenpeace said Tuesday.
Calling it an unprecedented crisis, Sze Pang Cheung, deputy campaign director for Greenpeace China, said illegal logging was rampant in countries such as Indonesia and Papua New Guinea that provide China with wood.
Between 76 percent and 90 percent of the logging in those two countries is illegal, the group said in a newly released report.
Once in China, the lumber is turned into furniture, flooring and plywood for both domestic consumption and export to markets in the United States, Europe and Japan to satisfy rising demand for inexpensive wood products, the report said.
"This destructive trade is fueling the global forest crisis," Cheung said, adding the report is being sent to Chinese leaders.
On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said that the government has been "consistently opposed to illegal logging," but added that it should be tackled as a global issue.
"It is not the issue of any single country or a particular region. To combat illegal logging and the trade in this regard is the common responsibility of all countries," he said, reports the AP.