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Timber exports to China will not lead to deforestation in Siberia, the forestry agency has assured

Russia will not lose its Siberian taiga due to timber exports to China, as more trees are planted than cut, the forestry authority has announced.

In an interview on Wednesday, Ivan Sovetnikov, the head of Russia’s Federal Agency for Forestry, dismissed the notion that China will cut down the Siberian forests as a “myth”. The idea has been circulating among Russians for years, fueled by reports of illegal logging and high deforestation rates. China has been the largest importer of timber from its northern neighbor.

“About 600 million cubic meters of wood may be cut annually in Russia. On average, about 200 million are harvested each year, which is less than a third of the approved amount,” Sovetnikov explained.

Forests are a renewable natural resource, and over the past few years more trees have been planted than cut down in the country, he added.

Sovetnikov was commenting on Moscow’s foreign trade turning to the East over the past two years due to the sanctions campaign being spearheaded by the US and the EU. The official acknowledged that timber exports to China had grown and described the development as a positive trend that came in response to changes in global trade and logistics.

According to official figures, Russia’s timber exports decreased 7% to 25 million cubic meters last year, while the share of Asian buyers jumped 12%. China traditionally remains the main importer of wood from Russia.

Siberia, which extends across the Asian part of Russia, is home to a vast mixed forest, covering hundreds of thousands of square kilometers, including along the border with China.

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