Illegal tree loggers arrested in Uzbekistan
How many trees can be logged by a group of 12 if they’re equipped with axes, double-hand saws and a chain saw?
Fortunately, these 12 illegal tree loggers didn’t manage to find that out. Inspectors from the Amu Darya Basin Inspection (ABI) unit arrested them during a raid on the right bank of the Amu Darya, Central Asia’s longest river. The offenders were planning to harvest wood in Uzbekistan’s Bukhara region and on the Amu Darya islands.
Riparian forests (called ‘tugai’ in Central Asia) are important habitat for the Bactrian (Bukhara) deer — a subspecies of red deer — which are endemic to Central Asia. The animal is on the verge of extinction, partly because of habitat loss. The deer are disappearing together with forests, so the species conservation depends on the conservation of the local forests.
By 2000, 90% of Uzbekistan’s riparian forests have disappeared. Most of the forests that still exist are younger and therefore poorer in flora and fauna than they used to be. However, they’re still crucial in water conservation, river bank stabilization and provide habitat and food for tugai flora and fauna.
The ABI group plays a major role in saving Uzbekistan’s woodland. It was created in 2002 by Uzbekistan’s state agency in cooperation with WWF’s Bukhara deer project, and financed by WWF-Netherlands.