ALERT'S Pierre-Michel Forget shares this news from West Africa, where forests and wildlife are suffering a terrible toll.
Illegal logging is exploding in West Africa. But where is all that illegal timber going? The number one suspect among those on the ground: China.
The latest news of rampant illegal tree-cutting comes from Senegal, via the country's former Environment Minister, Haidar El Ali (for the French speakers among us, see also here, here, here, and here).
"The plundering of our forests is a scourge that is growing," said El Ali.
On 24 July, Senegalese President Macky Sall underscored his commitment to combat rampant timber cutting.
"It's an unsustainable phenomenon. Every year we lose about 40,000 hectares of forest because of this criminal activity," said Sall.
Haidar El Ali said "The method used by traffickers is to pay for a license to cut firewood. The trunks are then hidden at the bottom of the truck and covered with a layer of firewood or charcoal."
"The large quantities of wood suggest that this is international traffic to China, via Gambia in particular,” the former minister continued.
Lamenting that once-lush forests were now deserts, Haidar El Ali said "It is not a question of resources but of political will. We can stop this traffic. We must mobilize all Senegalese."
Just a few weeks ago, Myanmar (Burma) sentenced over 150 Chinese nationals to long prison terms for their role in illegal logging and timber smuggling in that nation.
Pierre-Michel Forget reminds us that In November, China will be attending the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris.
"Given China's role as the world's biggest polluter and arguably the biggest forest destroyer, we have to tell their delegates emphatically that their alarming planet-degrading activities must stop," says Forget.