Hong Kong’s Luxury Timber Problem: Major stockpiles, minor prosecutions

In 2018, Customs Department has intercepted 4 major shipments of rosewood and 1 massive load of red sandalwood, known as “red gold”. Weighed 118 tons and valued at HK$17 million, it is more than twice the amount in 2017. Both types are protected under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).

The devastation wrought on tropical forests by China’s soaring demand for rosewood, driven by the popularity of reproduction Ming and Qing Dynasty furniture, known as Hongmu, single pieces of which can fetch up to US$1 million.

Steeped in high-level corruption and violence, logging was previously centred in Southeast and East Asia, and has increasingly engulfed Africa and Latin America.
Investigation reports have identified HKG as an important transit point for illicit wood shipments from Indonesia (2004), Thailand (2010) and Mozambique (2013), to Laos (2014), Cambodia (2015) and Madagascar (2017), and a “stepping stone” to the mainland, where customs “paperwork can be manipulated”.

(Coconuts Hong Kong)