EIA at 40 – exposing the flood of valuable rosewood and teak timber from Myanmar to China

In the countdown to EIA’s 40th anniversary later this year, we are featuring films and stories from our archive, highlighting our work exposing environmental crime and abuse around the world. 

Today we’re sharing a flashback to a film we made in 2015 to accompany a Forests team report exposing the huge scale of illegal logging in Myanmar, formerly Burma.

Organised Chaos: The illicit overland timber trade between Myanmar and China documented how, in Kachin State, all parties were profiting from shady Chinese businesses paying in gold bars for the rights to log entire mountains and we further revealed the official corruption which allowed the timber to pass through various checkpoints.

Kachin and Yunnan Province in China were at the heart of trade, but stolen timber was found to be increasingly sourced from deeper within Myanmar to feed factories in south and east China.

The bulk of the timber moving across the border was high value species of rosewood and teak.

At the time of the report’s release in September 2015, EIA Forests Campaign Leader Faith Doherty said: “At first glance, this cross-border trade looks to be both chaotic and complex, with most of the stolen timber trafficked through Myanmar’s conflict-torn Kachin State, but the reality beneath the apparent anarchy is an intricate and structured supply chain within which different players have defined functions and collude to ensure the logs keep flowing.”