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Island logging continues unabated

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 16 January 2011

Following the signatures of 5000 WWF supporters on a WWF online petition to stop illegal logging of precious woods in Madagascar, WWF urges Andry Rajoelina, the president of the transitional government of Madagascar to deliver what he promised and stop illegal logging once and for all.

Illegal rosewood logging in Madagascar. Photo: Stuart Pimm

At a meeting with WWF representatives in October last year, the country’s President Andry Rajoelina promised to make an official declaration to stop all illegal logging of precious woods in the island’s north eastern humid forests. He declared hat resources would be made available to support local authorities to implement appropriate management plans to secure the forests in the future.

However, no such public declaration has been made to date, and illegal logging continues to devastate the island’s precious and fragile environment.

“Andry Rajoelina told us he wanted to stop illegal logging. He also said he wanted to call on countries who import the timber, and especially China, not to buy rosewood products anymore and is ready to co-finance actions to stop illegal logging with government funds” says Niall O’Connor, Regional Representative of WWF Madagascar and Western Indian Ocean.

”Now is the time for action. WWF urges him and the Government to deliver what they promised!”

More than 20,000 hectares of forests, inside protected areas, have been devastated following political turmoil in 2009, with more than 100,000 precious wood trees illegally felled in some of the richest and most diverse forests on the planet.

A further estimated half a million more trees have been cut, to float the heavy logs downstream, causing extensive damage and species loss.

The illegal activity destroys forests and the services they provide to local communities. It also affects the tourism industry that traditionally benefitted this area and which has provided local people with jobs and a regular income in the past.

Furthermore countless numbers of lemurs and other bush meat have been butchered and eaten by loggers during their stay in the parks.

Although the Malagasy government has shown its good will to address the current crisis by publishing a clear ban on rosewood export, by engaging in listing precious hardwood species on CITES appendix III, unfortunately, the cutting of precious woods in Madagascar’s Northeast has not yet stopped. Exports have decreased, but exploiters are stock piling wood in the hope of an exceptional export authorization to be made in the future. As reported by Mongabay.com, a recent field visit conducted by Missouri Botanical Garden revealed that up to 10,000 people are currently living inside Masoala National Park.

The rosewood trafficking, coupled with the government weakness to ban it, initiated and extended drastically the traffic of natural resources in Madagascar. Countless endemic species such as tortoises and lemurs are heavily exploited these days.

Source: WWF

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