There’s good news for Madagascar’s rosewoods and other vulnerable hardwood species as the government submits a proposal to list all their rare hardwood species under the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species appendix III. The benefits of this means that within 90 days hardwood timber and logs exported from the country will require a certificate to demonstrate that the tree has been legally felled. This now places onus on the buyers of timber to ensure that they do not buy illegally logged products.
While certification under appendix III does not offer as much protection as appendix II – which offers the option of trade bans on species – this added protection can provide extra powers to the Malagasy government and helps them to work internationally on ending the trade in illegally felled rare hardwoods such as rosewoods and ebony. Although the government has submitted proposal for listing there is some concern over whether they are able – or willing – to enforce the protection. A government decree was passed earlier this year to ban all exploitation and trade in hardwoods but exports have continued. with up to 15,000 tonnes of rosewood already felled and waiting for at the docks, it’s unlikely that listing will, in the short term at least, end exports of endangered species.
The WWF has been one of the organisations that have been lobbying for greater protection of hardwoods and Tiana Ramahaleo, Conservation Science and Species Programme Coordinator in Madagascar said “The fact that the Malagasy CITES delegation has submitted this proposal is a first step into the right direction. It shows a will to deal with the uncontrolled export of those much sought-after wood species,”
“We will benefit from more transparency in the timber trade as we will have more information about wood operators, their operation sites, the amount of wood being shipped and, last but not least, the buyers” says Ramahaleo.
Madagascar needs to deal effectively with their logging as they have already lost over 90% of the primary tropical forests. Many of their hardwood species are vulnerable or threatened. The forests in Madagascar are recognised for the wealth and diversity of species. Much of the illegal logging is taking place in national parks and the World Heritage site in the northeast of the island. Many of the gangs of loggers are armed and there is little that the local authorities can do without the support of the government.
There is also growing economic pressures on locals to look to logging as a source of income as there has been a major decline in tourism since the coup. the value of ecotourism in 2008 – the year before the coup – was estimated to be $390 million dollars. since the coup the value is thought to have at least dropped by 50% to 60% as tourists stayed away and western governments advised against travel to Madagascar.