Destruction of Tibet’s forests

Tibet is China’s largest source of timber, with 7.6 million hectares of forests. Forest production accounts for 14 percent of the region’s gross domestic product. Tsawa Pashoe, Zogon, Markham, Chamdo, Kongpo, Dromo, Nangchen, and Bathang are only some of the mentioned areas in Tibet where major deforestation has been reported by recently arrived Tibetan refugees in India.

Sonam Tashi from Derge village in Kham says that the Chinese are cutting down trees as fast as they can build the roads to transport them to China. Sonam reports that Kongpo, a lush forest area in south-east Tibet (425 km east of Lhasa) is near extinction and predicts that if the Chinese continue to cut down trees at the same rate, Kongpo’s trees will be gone within 6 to 18 months.

Sonam also reported on a creative new method devised by the Chinese to transport these trees. An “uncountable amount” of trucks show up at the banks of the Drichu river (one of Tibet’s major rivers which flows south-east from central Tibet all the way into China) daily and dump huge logs into the river. The strong current of the river carries the logs, felled mostly from Palyul and Ringchu, into China. This is mostly done in Summer when the river is very high with a strong current.

Another recent refugee from Gonjo in Kham, Jigme Loyang, reports that there is a brand new highway in Gonjo to transport trees. The road shortens the route for the Chinese and logging trucks are able to travel from Lhasa or Chamdo through Gonjo, Derge, Karze and finally into Serdo and finally China.

Jigme, whose village lies on the new highway, has counted between 200 to 500 trucks full of trees on their way to China each day. He estimates that around 2,000 trucks a day are using this road to transport wood, minerals and other products to and from China.

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