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Act Aggressively to Curb Illegal Logging, Madagascar Urged

Madagascar’s efforts to curtail illegal logging in the World Heritage Sites of Masoala and Marojejy National Parks and their peripheral zones have not reduced the impact of logging in the immediate term, say governments, international agencies, and conservation groups that support conservation of the country’s natural heritage. A statement issued today by 13 embassies, agencies, and organizations–the...

Madagascar’s efforts to curtail illegal logging in the World Heritage Sites of Masoala and Marojejy National Parks and their peripheral zones have not reduced the impact of logging in the immediate term, say governments, international agencies, and conservation groups that support conservation of the country’s natural heritage.

A statement issued today by 13 embassies, agencies, and organizations–the ‘International Community and Conservation Partners Resident in Madagascar”–calls for “aggressive transparent actions to curb illegal logging in and around Madagascar’s Protected Areas and World Heritage Sites.”

Madagascar-forest-picture-4.jpg

NGS photo of lemur in Madagascar forest by Luis Marden

The “communique” was made two months after eleven groups that fund and help manage conservation of Madagascar’s remaining wilderness heritage issued a joint statement, deploring the invasion by armed looters of national parks and forests, illegal timber extraction, illegal mining, and intensified smuggling of endangered species.

madagascar-satellite-picture-2.jpg

The groups came together at the end of March after numerous reports that Madagascar’s conservation areas were being plundered by bandits and organized criminal syndicates taking advantage of the lawlessness and paralysis of government in the wake of a coup d’etat and ongoing political turmoil throughout the African island country.

Earlier in March, the Marojejy National Park in the northern region of Madgascar closed for tourism after gangs entered the sanctuary to cut down precious rosewood trees.

Looters invading Madagascar’s protected wildlife sanctuaries to harvest trees threaten critically endangered lemurs and other species, conservationists warn. (Read a full account about this.)

Satellite image courtesy NASA

Now, two months later, there is no indication that the illegal logging has abated, prompting today’s statement.

Joining the conservation groups in today’s statement are the embassies of France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, and the U.S. All these countries provide foreign assistance to Madagascar.

“Madagascar’s image … is being irreparably damaged.”

The statement said: “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, resulting in reduced long-term support to protected areas and making it difficult for Madagascar’s people to benefit from its natural resource heritage.

“We are also afraid this 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. 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. It is clear the current situation does not further the fight against poverty or the livelihoods of Madagascar’s rural population.”

madagascar-forest-picture-5.jpg

NGS photo by Luis Marden

Illegal trade of timber is growing in importance and concern at the global level, the statement continued. “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.

“We, the international community and conservation partners, encourage a still more proactive and aggressive response in addressing this increased harvesting of Madagascar’s unique natural resources by implementing a legal transparent system of wood trade that effectively controls all points in the supply chain.

“Environmental governance can and must be improved through preventive actions at all levels, including pressure on international buyers coupled with incentives that support legal trade and respond to the needs and engagement of local communities.

“Moreover, it is essential that the Malagasy authorities, with the support of all stakeholders, improve support to protected areas in order to preserve the extraordinary biological riches of Madagascar.”

Read the full text:

COMMUNIQUE

 

Environmental Governance: Need for aggressive transparent actions to curb illegal logging in and around Madagascar’s Protected Areas and World Heritage Sites

The international community and conservation partners resident in Madagascar are very concerned by the escalation of illegal logging in and around protected areas.

We recognize that this has been a long term problem spanning more than a decade. However, we believe the recent, dramatic escalation in illegal logging is directly linked to the irresponsible actions by mafia-like groups and governance challenges linked with a fragile institutional context that makes enforcement of existing laws and regulations difficult.

While we applaud the concrete actions initiated by Madagascar National Parks to curtail illegal logging in the World Heritage Sites of Masoala and Marojejy National Parks and their peripheral zones, we are concerned that this action plan has not yet reduced the impact of logging in the immediate term. It does not adequately ensure transparency and control at the different points within wood supply chains starting at harvest through to the point of export.

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, resulting in reduced long term support to protected areas and making it difficult for Madagascar’s people to benefit from its natural resource heritage. We are also afraid this 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. 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. It is clear the current situation does not further the fight against poverty or the livelihoods of Madagascar’s rural population.

Illegal trade of timber is growing in importance and 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.

We, the international community and conservation partners, encourage a still more proactive and aggressive response in addressing this increased harvesting of Madagascar’s unique natural resources by implementing a legal transparent system of wood trade that effectively controls all points in the supply chain.

Environmental governance can and must be improved through preventive actions at all levels, including pressure on international buyers coupled with incentives that support legal trade and respond to the needs and engagement of local communities.

Moreover, it is essential that the Malagasy authorities, with the support of all stakeholders, improve support to protected areas in order to preserve the extraordinary biological riches of Madagascar.

June 2009

International Community and Conservation Partners Resident in Madagascar:

French Embassy

German Embassy

Japanese Embassy

Norwegian Embassy

Swiss Embassy

U.S. Embassy

KfW Entwicklungsbank

United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

U.S. Agency for International Development

World Bank

Conservation International

Wildlife Conservation Society

Worldwide Fund for Nature

 

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