Tuesday, 14 May 2013

How You Can Help Save Threatened Russian Tigers: Op-Ed

Linda Walker, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) 

Date: 09 May 2013 Time: 11:07 AM ET 

Linda Walker is manager of the Global Forest & Trade Network - North America for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Washington, D.C. She contributed this article to LiveScience’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights

Your dining-room table may be one of the reasons why Russian tiger forests are being pushed to the brink of destruction. And without realizing it, you may be stepping on tiger habitat each time you walk on your hardwood floor. 

That's a hard fact to read. The idea that flooring or a piece of furniture you purchased could be endangering the survival of the endangered Amur tiger is as troubling as it is surprising. 

It’s a story that begins thousands of miles away in the Russian Far East, where loggers are illegally chopping down the largest and most valuable oak, ash, elm and linden trees, and shipping them across the border to China. There, companies are turning this illegal timber into hardwood furniture and flooring, and shipping it to the United States and Europe, where it is purchased by consumers who are unaware that the wood in their furniture was stolen from tiger habitat. 

A recent investigation by WWF-Russia looked at more than 10 years of on-the-ground observations and found the situation sobering: Russia’s forest sector has become deeply criminalized, with poor law enforcement, allowing illegal loggers to plunder valuable timber stocks with impunity. 

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