Growing use of timber resources in Russia's Far East endangering wildlife habitat, rare big cats in particular

LOS ANGELES , January 5, 2012 () – Expanding utilization of timber resources in the Far East of Russia is endangering rare big cats and other wildlife, according to animal conservationists, although the forest products industry says tree plantings equal those being logged, RT-TV reported Jan. 5.

Environmentalists said that, if the forests products industry is criticized, industry business leaders claim the environmentalists are trying to shut it down in the region known for its outstanding wildlife habitat.

Vladimir Lyashenko, with the Arkaim wood products facility, said it plants enough trees to replace those logged, reported RT-TV.

The region's government head of reforestation, Ivan Denisov, said that replanting is “a losing battle.” Ordinarily, the agency can plant enough seedlings to replace tree harvests, but a forest fire would cause it to fall 10 years behind, he said.

Environmentalists said no dependable records are kept of tree harvesting, RT-TV reported.

However, at least one new wood facility in the Far East uses 800,000 m3 a year of wood and the operation is growing.

Tigers require a large territory of intact forest to survive, said Lyudmila Kruglova of the Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre, reported RT-TV.

The coastal region lies about 8,000 kilometers from Moscow, on the border with China, and is crossed by the Amur and the Ussuri rivers.

The primary source of this article is RT-TV, Moscow, Russia, on Jan. 5, 2012.

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