Category: Madagascar.

WWF CONDEMNS MADAGASCAR’S AUTHORIZATION OF ROSEWOOD EXPORTS

WWF has condemned the decision of the Madagascan government to allow the export of endangered rosewood as it could have disastrous consequences for some of the country’s unique plant and animal species.

In the past it was illegal to export rosewood timber that had not been processed, but the prime minister has extended an order that legalises the export of illegally harvested wood.

“We strongly condemn the extension of the order as it only benefits a couple of wood operators while the Malagasy population is deprived of their natural heritage and are left poorer than ever,” said Niall O’Connor, Regional Representative of WWF Madagascar and West Indian Ocean Programme Office. “The Prime ministers comments now opens the doors for further logging in the National Parks which puts short-term financial benefits over the interest of Malagasy people.”

Exploitation and devastation of several national parks have followed the military coup that took place in March 2009. Masoala and Marojejy National Parks and Mananara Biosphere Reserve have been severely hit by ongoing logging activities with Masoala, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, being the worst affected.

Global Witness published a report in November in 2009 into the illegal felling, transport and export of precious woods in one area of Madagascar. Their team observed intensive logging in Masaola and the transport of logs to Antahala.

“The intensive transport of rosewood in broad daylight, on sections of road policed by Gendarmerie posts, both to the south and to the north of Antalaha, demonstrates a serious breakdown in the rule of law – if not the active collusion of law enforcement authorities with illegal timber traffickers,” said the report.

Up to 20,000 hectares of protected forest could be affected by logging activities in 2009. WWF’s Conservation Director in Madagascar, Nanie Ratsifandrihamanana, says that the consequences for affected ecosystems could be devastating.

“With thousands of not yet described plant and animal species in Madagascar, we don’t know how many of them depend directly on rosewood as a resource,” she said. “We also don’t know to what extent logging activities were responsible for the decrease of lemur populations over the last year. But we fear that habitat disturbance and bush meat hunting will push several endemic species to the brink of extinction.”

By Dan Sumners

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Category: Madagascar
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