Environmental concern over end of ban on export of precious wood
Environmentalists are worried that easing control on old growth timber in Madagascar’s rainforests could lead to a frenzy of logging. Renowned worldwide for their biodiversity, Madagascar’s remaining forests are some of the most biodiverse anywhere.
Last month Madagascar’s Minister of the Environment and Forests re-authorized the export of all categories of natural forest-sourced primary products, including rosewood and ebony. The only proviso is that traders can provide proof of legal origin for the timber. In essence, while previously any felling or transportation of rosewood or ebony was prohibited, now it is permitted.
Precious wood extraction almost always causes significant damage to the surrounding forest and is often associated with the poaching of bushmeat for sale to restaurants. Conservationists and the eco-tourism industry have both voiced concerns that the relaxed forest law will be exploited by the foreign timber traders and local logging mafia who already dominate timber exports in Madagascar.
There are moves for a legal review of the Madagascar government’s decision regarding relaxing the ban.