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International community calls for action against illegal logging in Madagascar

From WWF

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The international community and major conservation groups in Madagscar have issued a joint statement calling for action against dramatic increase in illegal logging on the island which is putting at risk one of the world’s richest biodiversity hotspots.

Some protected  areas are being invaded by organized criminals cutting down valuable rosewood trees and extracting other resources. Most of the wood is known to come from Marojejy National Park and Masoala National Park.

The 13 signatories of the statement include the embassies of France and Germany, the World Bank and other international organizations as well as the World Wide Fund for Nature and Conservation International.

“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,” 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.”

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.

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.

According to the document, the current situation also stands in the way of the country’s  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.

But according to the international community and the conservation partners a “more proactive and aggressive” response is needed to address this increased harvesting of Madagascar’s unique natural resources.

“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.”

The statement was signed by:

• The French Embassy
• The German Embassy
• The Japanese Embassy
• The Norwegian Embassy
• The Swiss Embassy
• The USA Embassy
• KfW Entwicklungsbank
• United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
• US Agency for International Development
• World Bank
• Conservation International
• Wildlife Conservation Society
• Worldwide Fund for Nature

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