Illegal logging endangers World Heritage Site Atsinanana Rainforest in Madagascar and its unique fauna
Illegal logging has indirectly put other species at risk by removing their habitats and creating greater access for poachers. In Madagascar, more than 90% of all lemur species are now close to extinction due to habitat loss, according to a new international report launched by WWF during World Heritage Day 2017.
The report urges for additional and immediate measures to halt the worrying trend in illegal trafficking for international trade of CITES-listed species in the world’s most ecologically important places. The document includes a detail case of study about Rainforest of Atsinanana that describes how it is feeding the illicit demand for rosewood in China.
Known for their iconic beauty, geology, ecology and biodiversity, natural World Heritage sites across the globe support large populations of rare plant and animal species. For instance, Atsinanana Rainforest in Madagascar harbours some of the most pristine forests and unique ecosystems on the planet. The property includes six national parks and covers almost 500,000 hectares. However, this sites and its fauna and flora are in great danger due to illegal wildlife trafficking.
Illegal logging of rosewood and ebony led to the site’s inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2010. Yet despite their recognised value and protected status, illegal poaching has been a significant problem in the Atsinanana Rainforest for the last decade. At its peak, illegal rosewood logging rates were estimated to be as high as 200 to 300 m3 per day in Masoala and Marojejy national parks.
Moreover, the report underlines that over a two-year period, illegal rosewood trade has cost the people of Madagascar up to US$200 million in lost income. The rosewood is predominantly imported by China, despite a complete CITES ban on rosewood exports from Madagascar in 2013.
“WWF is highly concerned about the negative impacts of illegal logging for the unique biodiversity of Madagascar and works closely within grassroots communities and local authorities to reinforce forest patrols and law enforcement, especially in the Northern Highlands of Madagascar, around the Atsinanana Rainforest world heritage site”, said Nanie Ratsifandrihamanana, WWF Madagascar director. “For instance, in 2016, 245 patrols were formed by WWF to improve their capacity in the use of Law enforcement Monitoring system, a software that allows the natural resources pressure's and to identify and treat crimes”