- The Malagasy international community and major conservation group have called for urgent action against an increase in illegal logging saying this puts a major risk on one of the world's richest biodiversity hotspots.
According to a joint statement signed by 13 international organisations and local conservationists, the protected areas are increasingly being invaded by criminals cutting down the most valuable rosewood trees from the two national parks of Marojejy and Masoala National Parks.
The statement said recent escalation in illegal logging is directly linked to the irresponsible actions by mafia-like groups and governance challenges linked to the fragile institutional context that makes enforcement of existing laws and regulations difficult.
"We are troubled that Madagascar’s image, nationally and internationally, as a country committed to the protection of its unique biodiversity and natural resources is being irreparably damaged," the statement said.
Madagascar has recently experienced political instability since the former President Mark Ravalomanana was forced to resign by Mr Andry Rajoelina backed by the army.
The organisations said they were also afraid the damage could spread around other Protected Areas and their peripheral zone. “The increased illegal logging calls into question Madagascar’s genuine commitment to a transparent wood control system that documents the legality of harvesting and sales,” the statement stated.
A significant amount of precious resources - hardwood, unique biodiversity and non-collected fees - are irreversibly lost from this uncontrolled timber harvesting.
The Malagasy rural people only marginally benefit from this illegal trade of precious wood, as the international value of the exported wood is over 600 times the benefits to the collector.
The illegal trade of timber is growing and becoming a concern at the global level. The United States and European Union are putting in place new strict laws and regulations to stop the importation of illegally harvested and traded wood products.
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