Over the past six years, Madagascar has spent millions of dollars and devoted countless person hours to figuring out how to dispose of vast stockpiles of highly valuable, illegally logged rosewood, much of it cut from the country’s rainforests following a 2009 coup.To do so, the government must conduct a comprehensive inventory of the stockpiles, among other requirements issued by CITES.The World Bank has supported the effort with at least $3 million to $4 million in murky ad hoc loans.The current state of affairs, with untold thousands of rosewood logs still unaccounted for, and tens of thousands more stacked outside government offices, is widely seen as facilitating continued corruption and illicit activity. ANTALAHA, Madagascar — The piles of rosewood logs outside Chantal Rasoanirina’s office filled more than half the courtyard to head height. Each log, wet and weathered, was marked with a faded bar code left by a team that came from the capital city of Antananarivo to audit the stockpile between October and December of 2015. Rasoanirina, a forestry official here, looked out at the wood through her doorway with dismay. Some of the logs had been there for more than five years. Others the visitors from the capital had brought in by boat from remote outposts. She never learned the final count when they left that December, and said there had been no movement whatsoever in the past 18 months. “We’re an ‘intermediary site’ for the state — I don’t know where it goes next,” she shrugged. From her perspective, overseeing the stockpile has been a nerve-wracking, thankless task; she’d rather not answer for it at all. “Lots of people come by and ask questions,” she said. “It would be good if this rosewood disappeared, so there wouldn’t be any more questions about it.” Many of the logs stocked outside the provincial forestry and environment office in Antalaha bear the marks of multiple rosewood inventories carried out since 2010: barcodes affixed in late 2015, as well as blue, yellow, and red paint from earlier counts. Photo by Rowan Moore Gerety for Mongabay. But the rosewood here, and in 72 similar stockpiles of seized logs up and down Madagascar’s east coast, isn’t likely to go anywhere soon. Over the past six years, Madagascar has spent millions of dollars and devoted countless person hours to finding a definitive resolution to the quandary that greets Rasoanirina each day when she shows up for work: how to dispose of vast stockpiles of highly valuable, illegally logged wood. The goal is to close the door on an explosion of illegal logging that swept through national parks and protected areas in northeastern Madagascar in 2009 and 2010, after a coup d’état, and whose aftershocks are still being felt today. The vast majority of Malagasy rosewood is exported to China, where ornate rosewood furniture can sell for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Since 2011, the government has taken steps to protect species of rosewood and ebony (in genera Dalbergia and Diospyros, respectively) under CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. CITES requires Madagascar to prove that any plan to dispose of the wood wouldn’t pose a threat to the survival of endangered tree species. Practically speaking, this means the government must fulfill three requirements: first, a comprehensive inventory of existing stockpiles of rosewood and ebony; second, a sound scientific understanding of the taxonomy and life cycles of the species at risk (to lay the groundwork for any sustainable harvest); and third, rigorous enforcement of laws on logging and exports. The World Bank has supported the effort with at least $3 million to $4 million in murky ad hoc loans. The money was awarded through World Bank projects, but wasn’t tied to specific objectives or budget items, so it is left out of public project documents. To this day, the World Bank isn’t sure exactly how much has been spent. Over the coming decades, Malagasy citizens will have to repay the World Bank for its largesse regardless, but all three of the conditions for disposing of the ill-gotten timber are still far from being met: in September 2016, CITES threatened to ban all trade in more than 100 listed species from Madagascar if progress on rosewood didn’t accelerate before year’s end. The current state of affairs, with untold thousands of rosewood logs still unaccounted for, and tens of thousands more stacked outside government offices, is widely seen as facilitating continued corruption and illicit activity. “The longer this situation stretches out, the more of the stockpile will disappear,” said Cynthia Ratsimbazafy of the UK-based environmental watchdog group TRAFFIC, who co-authored a comprehensive report [pdf] on the illegal rosewood and ebony trade in Madagascar released last year. Instead of providing a resolution to the logging crisis once and for all, the stockpiles look increasingly like a symptom of the weak governance and high-level corruption that exacerbated the crisis in the first place.