Tree Thieves by Lyndsie Bourgon

4 out of 5 stars

The publisher provided a copy of this, free of charge, in return for an honest review.

Spending time in the presence of an old tree always makes me wonder just what they have ‘seen’. Not literally of course, but their timelessness means that they are around much longer than us. Whilst I want to see them survive so other generations can enjoy them, there are people out there who see them purely as a resource that will give them an income.

That is essential in our modern society, but when these trees and forests have significance for lots of people in their locale, finding out that someone has cut down trees from protected areas is quite shocking. Just look at the reaction to the sycamore being felled recently.

There is a thriving black market in wood. Trees from protected forests are regularly cut down and sold on to those that aren’t going to be asking too many questions as to where the timber came from. In this book, Lyndsie Bourgon parts the understorey and brambles to show us just how endemic it is.

She concentrates mostly on the forests in North America and highlights specific cases where they have managed to get prosecutions of the individuals involved. But it is a global problem, and the later part of the book explores some of the industrial logging that takes place, often at the hands of criminal gangs who are reliant on those that turn a blind eye, having been bribed.

It isn’t just theft, the wider problem of this illegal logging is that the carbon that these ancient trees were storing has been released into the atmosphere again. Even the process of removing the finely patterned burls from big trees can damage them. You may not think that it is much of a crime to steal some wood from a tree, but this crime is part of a wider problem that we humans have had with the world’s resources and that when they are gone, that is it, no more.

It does make me wonder just how certified FSC wood actually is. If they can trace illegal wood into Ikea and other stores then it probably means that the entire system is flawed and cannot be completely trusted. If you want to read a true crime book that does not have dead bodies littering the prose then I can recommend this.

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  1. kaggsysbookishramblings

    This sounds really interesting, and also very worrying. I hate it when old trees are felled, especially if there’s an alternative.

    • Paul

      It is quite scary the lack of regulation and enforcement

  2. Liz Dexter

    Oh goodness me, that is scary. I was really upset when next door cut down a lovely plum tree to build a horrible extension (as well as cutting our mutual privet hedge in half right down to the roots: it has miraculously survived) but this is on a horrific scale.

    • Paul

      It was fairly grim reading, but well written none the less

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