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Madagascar passes decree banning rainforest timber trade

Madagascar’s transitional government has finally signed a decree banning the logging and trade of precious hardwoods, a month after announcing the moratorium.

The decree comes in direct response to mounting pressure from the international community over ongoing destruction of Madagascar’s national parks by illegal loggers. Timber trafficking was associated with an increase in commercial poaching of wildlife — including endangered lemurs ̬ and violence against conservation workers and local communities by marauding bands of loggers.

The decree specifically prohibits the “cutting, exploitation and export of rosewood and ebony in Madagascar.”

The document states that “All persons engaged in the cutting, exploitation and export and rosewood and ebony are liable to criminal prosecution.”

The decree is signed by the the Deputy Prime Minister, Albert Camille Vital, and the Ministers of the Environment and Forests, Finance and Budget, Justice, Commerce, Interior Security, and the Secretary of State in charge of the Gendarmerie.

While the moratorium has been welcomed by environmentalists, some remain skeptical that it will be enforced by the current government. Some prominent advisers to the administration— which seized power during a military coup a year ago — have been linked to the timber trade.

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Film on the silky sifaka and rosewood logging in Madagascar. Aired last week on South African Television.

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