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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Finns Fingered for Forest Stripping

ReutersGreenpeace activists rallying against illegal stripping of Russian forests at a demonstration at the Finnish Embassy on Monday.
Greenpeace activists held a demonstration Monday outside the Finnish Embassy, decrying what they claim is the Finnish timber industry's indirect support for the illegal stripping of Russian forests.

Some 20 demonstrators, clad in white jumpsuits, unfurled a banner reading "Don't Support Illegal Logging." An embassy official agreed to talks.

Finnish companies buy about 11 million cubic meters of Russian timber every year, about one-third of Russia's total timber exports, Greenpeace said. The environmental group estimates that more than 75 percent of the wood has been cut in violation of Russian forestry regulations.

Greenpeace acknowledged that often the loggers have all the necessary permits, but poor law enforcement and government corruption mean forest regulations are still being violated.

The most common violation is logging without obtaining an up-to-date ecological survey first.

Environmentalists have warned that illegal logging will not only destroy some rare breeds but also could lead to climate change and environmental disasters.

"By purchasing semi-legal timber, the Finnish companies spur the development of the so-called 'gray' timber market," Alexei Yaroshenko, head of the Greenpeace-Russia Forest Department, said in a statement.

Greenpeace called on Finnish timber companies to work harder to abide by their pledge to purchase timber only from loggers that meet all international and national forest regulations.

The Finnish Embassy could not immediately be reached for comment.