China: Canadian company profitably exploits workers and degrades ecosystems in China
GUANGZHOU, CHINA — On a steep hillside in the poor rural stretches of
China’s deep south, three people are cutting down a pencil-thin tree.
One wields a chainsaw. Another a long hooked stick, which he wraps
around the trunk to direct its fall. Another leans her body weight
against the tree, pushing it to a thunderous tumble onto a forest
floor that has been turned to stumps. Soon the workers, who wear no
safety equipment — not even gloves — will chop the 20-metre-long trunk
into sections and carry them by hand to the side of a dirt road, where
their school-age children sit beneath a tarp and watch.
— even those who draw their livelihood from the trees — would see much
familiar here. The trees are, by Canadian standards, very thin, many
only 18 centimetres in diameter, some less. And, unlike Canada’s great
wild forests, these are plantation trees planted in cornrow lines and
wedged between peasant houses and farmer’s plots of land. Over the
past few years this rural hillside, tended by Sino-Forest Corp., has
been Canada’s most lucrative spot for forestry. The fast-growing
company already produces as much as Canada’s largest lumber company,
and plans to double that output in four years. That would make its
production equal to the combined production of softwood giants Canfor
Corp. and West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.