Budding investigators track illegal logging industry between Yvelines and China

They pulled strings until they discovered the truth… in China. A group of environmental activists from the Ile-de-France region have discovered an illegal timber export network in the Septeuil forest (Yvelines) to China. The two directors of the operating company will be tried on May 21, 2024 by the criminal court of Versailles, reports Actu.fr.

In the fall of 2022, activists observed a strange felling of trees on private plots in the municipality of Yvelin. Three associations, Sauvons la Tournelle, Jade and Sauvons les Yvelines, then filed a complaint for what they called “a chainsaw massacre.”

A company has signed contracts to deforest, the associations note “irregularities” in the applications for logging authorization presented to the city council. In particular, certain information was deliberately withheld from the authorities. According to information from the investigation, collected in part thanks to the actions of activists, the company felled between 200 and 400 trees, including classified wood, in the equivalent of 10 hectares of forest.

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Environmental activists traced the wood to China

Following their complaint, environmental activists continue to monitor the activities of the logging company. One day, one of them witnessed oak logs being loaded into a shipping container. He takes a photo. Activists then managed to trace the container thanks to its registry and open source vessel tracking sites.

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“This container transited through the ports of Antwerp (Belgium), Rotterdam (Netherlands) and Hamburg (Germany). Before reaching its final destination, Yantian“explains the president of Sauvons la Tournelle, Virginie Meurisse. Yantian is a city in southern China, located a few kilometers from Hong Kong. It is home to the country’s third largest port.

Investigators found evidence of financial exchanges with China

In 2017, China banned the felling of oak trees in the country. This opened the way for importation. And to the capitalist aspirations of foreign operators. French investigators quickly obtained documents proving that Yvelin’s company exported wood to Asia and received almost 100,000 euros from a Chinese company. A total of 27,000 euros in cash was also seized at the company’s premises.

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The company’s managers are risking a lot. Prosecuted for various crimes related to illegal deforestation, they could have to pay several tens of thousands of euros in fines. “The in-depth investigations highlight the illegal actions of the company. The reasons for cuts indicated in the previous statements are incorrect and the rates are exceeded (they cut more than they have the right to do, ed.), they observed the researchers. trees “They are slaughtered and stolen on undeclared plots and without authorization from the owners.”

This company was already convicted in December 2022 for similar acts in the neighboring town of Grosrouvre.

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