Russian jailed for felling 'Siberian tiger' trees
(AFP) – 2.12.2010
MOSCOW — A resident of Russia's far east was sentenced to nearly four years in prison for having chopped down trees necessary for the preservation of the massive Siberian tiger, World Wildlife Fund said Friday.
"It's extremely rare that a person is sentenced to prison in such a case," said a WWF representative in Amur, Russia's Primorye region, in remarks cited by the Ria Novosti news agency.
A WWF representative and a forest inspector reportedly questioned the man last year in an area where more than 2,600 cubic metres of Korean pine had been cut illegally.
The trees provide the foundation of a critical food chain on which the Siberian or Amur tiger is on top, environmentalists say.
Local logging operations over the past half century have decimated the Korean pine, WWF says, and illegal logging continues.
Earlier this month, forest inspectors discovered a swathe of land on which up to 3,000 cubic metres of pine and other trees had been cut illegally.
The world's largest cat, the Amur tiger was on the brink of extinction in the 1940s, with only about 40 tigers remaining in the wild, according to WWF.
While the population has since recovered thanks to conservation and antipoaching efforts, the environmental group says logging and other threats pose new challenges to its survival.