Loophole looms for illegal loggers of rare Madagascar woods | WWF
Loophole looms for illegal loggers of rare Madagascar woods

Posted on 07 October 2009

An exceptional authorisation from the Malagasy transitional government for the export of raw and semi-processed precious woods risks opening a loophole for the legal export of illegally cut timber and encouraging further assaults on Madagascar's endangered forests and wildlife, conservation groups active on the island have said.



Antananarivo, Madagascar – An exceptional authorisation from the Malagasy transitional government for the export of raw and semi-processed precious woods risks opening a loophole for the legal export of illegally cut timber and encouraging further assaults on Madagascar's endangered forests and wildlife, conservation groups active on the island have said.

"It legalises the sale of illegally cut and collected wood onto the market (...) and constitutes a legal incentive for further corruption in the forestry sector. " said a communique published locally by WWF, Conservation International (CI) and the World Conservation Society (WCS).

„The measures proposed will only benefit a small group of people while contributing to further poverty and powerlessness of the people who depend on these natural ressources“

The communique follows a Reuters report quoting Prime minister Monja Roindefo denying that the transitional government was legalising the plundering of forests, but refusing to rule out issuing future licences.

Niall O’Connor, Regional Representative for WWF Madagascar and West Indian Ocean Programm Office in Antananarivo says „ We condem the impact of the plundering of Madagascar’s forests, particularly the protected areas, on biodiversity and the loss of livelihood options for the local population.“

A study about the „Evaluation of rosewood and ebony stocks in two communities in the North East and in the middle-west of the country“ commissioned by WWF Madagascar in August 2009 revealed shocking details about the professional exploitation of precious woods such as the above mentioned in Madagascar.

In Andranopasy, a community in western Madagascar, only six species of rosewood are left from previously 15. No rosewood trees with a trunk diameter of more than 30 centimeters have been found any more. Three species of rosewood are very unlikely to regenerate. Another species, Diospyros perrieri, is not regenerating any more as are five others in the two project sites.

«This can be explained by the abusive commercial exploitation of the forest by foreign economic players. Even more, the local population cannot benefit from the precious woods in their forest for their very survival. Wood workers are paid the equivilent of 2 Euros a day while rosewood sells at 8.5 Euros per kilogramm.» says the study.

WWF Madagascar is investigating whether rosewood can be registered as an endangered species according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This will increase and tighten regulations on both import and export.

The recent increase in illegal logging is just another example in a long line of threats to Madagascar’s unique fauna and flora. Home to countless endemic plants and animals, the West Indian Ocean Island is one of the top biodiversity hotspots in the world. The world-famous lemurs on top of all are very important for the developing eco-tourism sector. Nowadays, many end up in cooking pots to feed the loggers.


For further information:
Martina Lippuner
Communications Manager
WWF Madagascar & West Indian Ocean Programme Office
Tel : +261 20 22 304 20
+261 20 22 348 85
E-mail : MLippuner@wwf.mg


About WWF

WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with almost 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

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Coquerel Sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi coquereli): one of the lemur species of Madagascar. Picture taken in Parc National d’Ankarafantsika
© WWF / Marjolein Kamermans