From central Africa to the Amazon basin and Indonesia's islands, the world's great forests are being lost at an annual rate of at least 13 million hectares (32 million acres) an area the size of Greece or Nicaragua.
Experts say few industries are as murky as the black market in wood.
Chinese firms might not be chopping down the trees themselves, but their insatiable appetite is driving up prices, spurring loggers to open more tracks and drawing huge global investment to the companies.
A 2-year investigation by Greenpeace accused companies mostly from Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Singapore and the US, of illegally acquiring titles to about 15 million hectares of Congolese rain forest after a 2002 moratorium.
Once upon a time, wild animals would sometimes stroll right into a hunter's compound. "These days you don't see any. They don't fall into our traps anymore. You need to go very far, deep in the forest to see or catch one," a hunter tells Reuters. As usual, it is the poorest that pay.
Many poor nations want the rich world to extend the Kyoto Protocol, the main UN plan for fighting global warming, to give farmers credits for letting forests stand rather than sell trees to loggers or clear land for crops.
Spinning the glober further west, the problem is perhaps even more acute in Indonesia.
Without drastic action, 98% of its remaining forests will be gone by 2022, with dire consequences for local people and wildlife, including endangered rhinos, tigers and orangutans.
The government has deployed soldiers at least 3 times in recent years to confiscate wood and chase out loggers and is training quick response ranger teams to police protected areas.
But experts say the new units are crippled by lack of funds, vehicles, weapons and equipment, and face a huge threat from loggers who are often guarded by heavily armed militia led by foreign mercenaries.
"If cutting of trees continues, no forest will be left by 2022." a local environmental campaigner tells Reuters.
The US and the EU the 2nd and 3rd biggest markets for Indonesian timber after China have both agreed in principle to ensure Indonesian forest product imports are verified as legal.
But experts say the amount of investment in the logging companies from the industrialised world vastly outstrips donor efforts to help Jakarta.
Trying to cut into the loggers' vast illicit profits, activists are fighting back with campaigns to persuade Western consumers to ask questions about where their wood comes from.