Illegal logging in Madagascar

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Illegal logging in Madagascar

Post  tungduong_9102 on 25th December 2010, 16:06

Illegal logging in Madagascar has been a problem for decades and is perpetuated by extreme poverty and government corruption. Often taking the form of selective logging, the trade has been driven by high international demand for expensive, fine-grained lumber such as rosewood and ebony. Historically, logging and exporting in Madagascar have been regulated by the Malagasy government, although the logging of rare hardwoods was explicitly banned from protected areas in 2000. Since then, government orders and memos have intermittently alternated between permitting and banning exports of precious woods. The most commonly cited reason for permitting exports is to salvage valuable wood from cyclone damage, although this reasoning has come under heavy scrutiny. This oscillating availability of Malagasy rosewood and other precious woods has created a market of rising and falling prices, allowing traders or "timber barons" to stockpile illegally sourced logs during periodic bans and then flood the market when the trade windows open and prices are high.

The unsustainable exploitation of these tropical hardwoods, particularly rosewood from the SAVA Region, has escalated significantly since the start of the 2009 Malagasy political crisis. Thousands of poorly paid Malagasy loggers have flooded into the national parks—especially in the northeast—building roads, setting up logging camps, and cutting down even the most difficult to reach rosewood trees. Illegal activities are openly flaunted, armed militia have descended upon local villages, and a rosewood mafia easily bribe government officials, buying export permits with ease. These illegal operations are funded in part by advance payments for future shipments (financed by Chinese expatriates and Chinese importers) and by loans from large, international banks. Demand is fueled mostly by a growing Chinese middle class and their desire for exotic imperial-style furniture. European and American demand for high-end musical instruments and furniture have also played a role. However, public scrutiny has put significant pressure on shipping companies involved in the trade, and the United States is starting to enforce the Lacey Act by investigating companies with suspected involvement in the illegal trade of Malagasy precious woods.

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