Sunday, 8 May 2011

Demand for luxury products in China threatens Malagasy forests

I was reading with interest on the website of the Jakarta Post about the signature after four years of negotiations of an historic new timber trade agreement between Indonesia and the European Union that will stem the flow of illegal timber to European markets. The Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) is the first ever in Asia and will govern a trade estimated to be worth about US$1 billion a year.
This is an important step in the fight against illegal logging in developing countries but googling about  articles on this topic I came across an astonishing article on the BBC site published last October 2010.

According to this article, the weak and political situation in Madagascar is fuelling illegal logging of hardwoods in the country. People living in the neighborhood of Masaola National park,   part of Unesco World Heritage site, witnessed the cutting of trees in the natural reserve.

Two Organizations, Global Witness and the Environmental Investigation Agency have been asked by the Madagascar's national parks service to conduct an investigation. Felling the three species concerned - ebony, rosewood and pallisander - is forbidden, but the government has issued permits cheaply for traders to export stockpiles, which led to further logging. Most of the illegal woods is traded in China (98 %) where its prime use is as reproduction furniture, like this chinese bed that can fetch extraordinary prices. In 2009, China issued a code of conduct for timber companies overseas but that's not enough. Only implementing more strict rules to block the importation of wood can slow down the phenomenon

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