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Forestry authority hits back at logging allegations

    BEIJING, Aug 16 -- China has strengthened efforts to crack down on illegal logging and timber trading, the State Forestry Administration (SFA) said yesterday.

    Spokesman Cao Qingyao denied accusations of plundering the world's rainforests to meet booming demand for wood.

    "The statement concerning the question that China's large demand for timber assists illegal logging and smuggling from Asia is groundless," Cao said at a news conference.

    "China consistently upholds and puts into practice collective international responsibility, opposing and cracking down on illegal logging and illegal wood imports," Cao said. "We have very strict import controls."

    He also urged relevant countries to take preventative measures to cope with illegal activities.

    China has joined with other countries to fell and process timber in legal projects with co-operation from governments, State-owned enterprises and private businesses.

    Cao said China's timber trade would be stable in the next few years, with exports not exceeding imports.

    Though some wood products, such as paper and pulp, huge logs and timber, are in short supply, a lot of other products such as furniture have been exported to other countries, the spokesman said.

    Last year China's trade of timber products saw a surplus for the first time, reaching US$3.064 billion.

    China's top timber trade partners are Russia, the United States, Indonesia, Canada and Japan.

    The spokesman said the government was focusing on becoming self-reliant for timber.

    China's timber supply was 325.9 million cubic metres in 2005, fractionally higher than demand of 325.7 million cubic metres, SFA said.

    Cao cited a survey showing that middle-aged and young trees account for about 67.85 per cent of China's forestry resources, indicating that the country's timber supply is rich and sustainable.

(Source: China Daily)

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