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Madagascar asks CITES to regulate rosewood and ebony

Following a logging crisis in 2009 where a number of Madagascar’s remaining forests were illegally cut, the African nation has turned to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to help regulate 91 species of rosewood and ebony.

“Regulating trade in these high-value timber species under CITES will help ensure that the benefits of trade flow to local people and it will also serve the global community by helping conserve these species, which will be to the benefit of entire ecosystems,” CITES’s Secretary-General John Scanlon said in a press release.

Illegal rosewood logging in Masoala National Park. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

CITES would incorporate five species of rosewood (out of the 48 known species in the country) and 84 species of ebony under Appendix III, meaning that any traded wood would need to include CITES documentation. Rosewood from Madagascar is usually shipped to China where it is made into high-end furniture as well as musical instruments.

Last year a research paper recommended that Madagascar request protection from CITES for its rosewood, arguing that a number of species were in danger of extinction.

A 2009 coup in Madagascar opened up an opportunity for loggers, pushed by foreign traders, to cut tens of thousands of hectares of forest in Madagascar’s most biodiverse rainforests, including a number of protected areas. The infiltration into parks also led to widespread slaughter of some lemur-species for bushmeat.

Madagascar is famed for its biodiversity, including a wealth of plant and animal species found no-where else in the world. But widespread deforestation and forest degradation has left many species—including dozens of types of lemurs—at risk of extinction.

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(07/12/2011) Authorities in Madagascar confiscated six containers of rosewood logs worth $360,000 – $600,000 at a port in the northwestern part of the country, reports AFP.

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