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I thought you would be interested in this article from environment: YALE magazine, the Journal of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.
By Richard Conniff
Early in August, before he rotated back to the States from Afghanistan, a civilian resource manager named Harry Bader ran a forest transect across the Tora Bora Mountains, the rugged border country notorious as the one-time hideout of Osama bin Laden. Bader was traveling in a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter, with a second Black Hawk in support, flying the landscape 250 or 300 feet above the treetops at about 70 miles an hour, well within range of ground fire. The job was to inventory marketable timber by tree species, crown diameter and height. Smuggled across the Pakistan border, a single big cedar tree can sell for $1,000, more than most local households earn in a year.
U.S. and coalition military forces had been acting on the belief that trade in black-market timber, like trade in opium, was providing cash for the Taliban, al Qaeda and other insurgents. Worse, it was turning mountain villages away from the Afghan national government, which banned tree harvesting in 2006. Timber smuggling also got the blame for the widely reported destruction of the upland forests. Bader, who wears a Yale Forestry cap and jokes about leading the Yale forestry extension service in Afghanistan, was figuring out the details of that trade by traveling on foot and by air into areas his military escorts call “kinetic,” meaning “extremely violent.”
He was also working to use that knowledge to woo the timber-smuggling villages back to the side of the Kabul…
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