Madagascar Legally Exports Illegally Logged Rosewood

Satellite Image of Illegally Logged Rosewood Areas Madagascar Image

A new poster jointly produced by researchers in Madagascar and the US graphically depicts how politically turmoil in Madagascar during 2009, coupled with poor political decisions have allowed for the legal export of illegally logged rosewood. Little is known about how much rosewood has been logged illegally but reports are not surfacing showing that 500 containers were shipped to China in April 2009. Several hundred other containers have been shipped in smaller batches throughout the year to China and other nations. Thanks to rapidly changing political turmoil throughout the country, previously protected areas were overlooked this year which allowed for the logging. September 21, 2009 the government allowed limited export permits to 13 timber traders, which just increased the interest in rosewood timber logging. Then November 30 of the same year the government outlawed rosewood harvesting, but satellite images showed that areas continued to be harvested.

Estimates as high as 60,000 trees have been cut down in 2009. To transport them downriver for shipment an additional 4 or 5 trees must be cut down to bind together groups of trees together to float them. The group now has a 7 minute Youtube video titled the Madagascar Rainforest Massacre, which you can see below:

The government has begun to capture some of the illegally logged timber, and is now trying to decide what to do next. If they auction off the timber they are essentially justifying the logging. One solution suggested by the group is to "sell" the value of the rosewood to local communities and use that money in a special fund to help preserve rosewood in the future. You can find the whole report and see the entire poster, published last week in the Madagascar Conservation Journal, online now.

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