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Patterns of Economic Development

Forestry and Fishing

Although lumbering is an important industry in Southeast Asia, the pattern of commercial production is being altered, due in part to increased concern regarding deforestation. For example, in 1985 Indonesia—a significant source of tropical hardwoods—banned the export of unprocessed logs in an attempt to slow production and increase domestic timber processing industries. The bans were replaced by a high export tax in 1992. Thailand, once a major source of teak timbers, instituted a ban on commercial logging in 1989. Many companies then shifted their attention to the forests of neighboring Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar, where some firms developed alliances with dissident groups to illegally exploit local timbers.

Slash-and-burn agriculture is still practiced in parts of Southeast Asia, as well as in the more remote parts of humid South Asia and southern China. In the heavily populated areas of India and China, however, the original forest cover has long since been removed.

Lumbering is a major industry in Japan, where large areas of planted conifers have replaced much of the original temperate forests in the south and deciduous hardwoods in the north. Siberian timber reserves are enormous but relatively untapped; the region’s inaccessibility and harsh climate prohibit logging, and the quality of the trees is generally insufficient for world markets.

Marine fisheries are extremely important in Asia. Japan is the world’s leading fishing country, and China is not far behind. The fishing industry is also important in Russia, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, and the Philippines. Pisciculture (raising fish in ponds) is also an important activity, especially in China. Although fishing in the less developed countries is largely for domestic consumption, emphasis has increasingly been placed on exports of dried, frozen, and canned fish.

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