Source: Global Witness
2 December 2009 - A new report by Global Witness and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has revealed the extent of illegal logging in the National Parks and protected areas of the SAVA Region of Madagascar. The two non-profit organizations state that 30-115 cubic meters of precious rosewood, worth between $88,000 and $460,000, are being illegally harvested every day. Members of the Forest Administration, the national police and other Malagasy authorities are accused of serious failings, and in some cases, complicity with the traffickers.
The investigation into the trafficking of rosewood, palissander and ebony, commissioned by the Madagascar National Parks in August, uncovered unprecedented levels of illegal activity in the country's northeast, following the political crisis earlier in the year. Investigators captured video evidence of the logging and collected testimony from local communities, revealing both the scale and brazenness of the illegal trade.
In February, Madagascar was rocked by political instability and frozen out of foreign investment and conservation aid. Thousands of loggers invaded national parks and cut down protected species. The massive scale of the illegal harvest threatens vulnerable communities and Madagascar's last remaining natural forests, home to some of the planet's rarest wildlife. Loggers cut down trees to clear trails and make canoes, hunt rare lemur species, and burn down tracts of forest for temporary settlements, encouraging occupation of once-pristine habitats.
"Some of the world's unique forests, and the communities that rely on them, are being degraded beyond repair to feed our demand for luxury goods," said Andrea Johnson, Director of Forest Campaigns at EIA. Between 100-200 rare trees are estimated to be cut down each day. The majority of the trade is driven by an appetite for expensive rosewood furniture in China. Smaller amounts of precious woods are sent to Europe and the United States for use in high-end musical instruments.
Despite high prices for these woods on international markets-a rosewood armoire can fetch up to $20,000 at retail-only the smallest fraction of the wood's value remains in Madagascar. The country exports mostly raw timber and an analysis of financial transactions showed that little of the proceeds return to Madagascar.
For the complete article, please see Global Witness.