Ten graduate students from the journalism school’s International Reporting Program spent a year reporting on communities affected by illegal logging in Indonesia, Cameroon and Russia.
CUT is presented through a multimedia project that looks at the origin of the wood and paper products in a typical North American home. CUT’s website was produced by UBC’s International Reporting students, in collaboration with International University in Moscow. The website was designed by students at the Centre for Digital Media. Excerpts of the multimedia documentary were featured in The New York Times.
CUT focuses on the environmental and social costs of illegal logging, and the role of consumer demand for cheap wood products.
“Interpol estimates that up to 30 per cent of all wood products are made from trees that were illegally harvested,” said Keith Rozendal, one of the students involved in the project. “After learning that, I began to see wood products in a whole new light. Where did this item come from? Who profited and who was harmed?”
In Russia’s Far East, students discovered that massive amounts of illegally-logged Russian hardwood are shipped to China, where the wood is turned into inexpensive furniture and other items for export to western consumers.
In Indonesia a student team accompanied UN officials on an illegal logging raid drill, and they challenged a representative of one of the world’s biggest paper companies about their damaging environmental history.
In Cameroon, students encountered a scheme to deprive indigenous people of their livelihoods in their community forest. They also found an American guitar company trying to make a difference by building guitars from sustainably harvested ebony.
“We’re trying to focus not only on the problems, but also the solutions,” said Peter Klein, director of the International Reporting Program.
CUT is in running for a Canadian Online Publishing Award (COPA) for best video or multimedia feature. COPA award winners will be announced at a November 13th award ceremony in Toronto.