More than half of Suriname's timber exports are illegal, and the loss could reach $ 122 million annually
Logging has been rapidly destroying the tropical forests of Suriname, and the illegal sale of the commodity generates enormous financial damage to the country. This is what Deutsche Welle's investigative report points out.
The data indicate that more than half of the logging in the South American country is irregular. The main buyers are China and India, and Chinese companies also dominate extraction concessions.
Suriname produces about 1.5 million cubic meters of wood per year. "Most are sold on illegal websites, which makes buying and selling untraceable," says journalist Carl Holm.
The authorities are aware of the problem, but corruption prevails. Environmentalists reportedly discovered about 100 containers with illegal timber last year. When alerting customs officials, servers “sealed and sent for export”, says Holm.
Economic losses due to illegal logging can reach US $ 122 million per year - just over R $ 650 million. "The money goes straight into the coffers of criminal cartels," reported the journalist.
With high rates of poverty, the South American country of 581 thousand inhabitants ended 2019 with a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of US $ 3.7 billion. The pandemic, now at its third peak, tends to lower the country's position, which is in 97th place in the HDI (Human Development Index) ranking.
On the 10th, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced that China is ready to boost relations with Suriname. Beijing has announced that it plans to include the country in the Silk Road Belt program and deepen cooperation in infrastructure, communication and energy.
Under former President Desi Bouterse, Suriname was one of the first Latin countries to stand in favor of the “One China” concept and to deny Taiwan's independence.
The environmental damage, however, tends to be even greater than the financial. Environmental activist Erlan Sleur, of the ProBios organization, warned that the logs captured by Chinese logging companies are more than 100 years old and are in remote and poorly supervised areas.
According to him, the authorities use drones and satellite images to inspect the illegal withdrawal, but controlling Suriname's millions of hectares of rainforest "is impossible," Sleur said. “Even if they discover illegal extraction, it is difficult to act. Corruption is endemic ”.
"The concessionaires, people who cut and dispatch the wood, in addition to those who carry out inspections at the port, are all involved in the chain of illegalities," said Suriname
opposition politician Angelic del Castilho.