From: Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM, More from this Affiliate
Published August 24, 2011 07:44 AM

Madagascar may authorize exports of illegally-logged rosewood

A meeting scheduled for August 25th between rosewood traders, the Ministry of Forest and Environment, and other government officials may determine the fate of tens of millions of dollars' worth of rosewood illegally logged from Madagascar's rainforests parks.


The meeting, which will take place in Sambava in northern Madagascar's SAVA region, may facilitate the resumption of rosewood exports from Madagascar despite an official ban on the trade, raising fears among conservationists that protected areas will again be targeted by illegal loggers. Madagascar's national parks — especially Makira, Marojejy, and Masoala in the northeast — were hard hit by logging during the political crisis that followed the 2009 military coup that displaced Madagascar's democratically-elected president.

"Allowing the remaining rosewood stock to be exported would be equal to green-washing of the illegal trade, and protected areas would become an open-trade source for [logging]," said a conservationist who has worked extensively on the rosewood logging issue but requested anonymity.

The source added that rosewood traders are exerting heavy pressure on the transition authority that currently controls Madagascar to lift the export ban on rosewood.

The outcome of the meeting could have implications for a $52 million dollar World Bank loan that aims to shore up funding for biodiversity conservation, which has largely evaporated in the aftermath of the coup. The World Bank is said to be weighing support for "a transparent and accountable way to sell the rosewood directly on the international markets" as a means to provide additional finance for conservation, but any signs that authorities are moving ahead without proper safeguards could dash the loan, according to the conservationist.

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Image credit: Stuart Pimm

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