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NGOs Denounce Illegal Rosewood Traffic in Madagascar’s Protected Areas

NGOs and Public Personalities Denounce Illegal Rosewood Traffic in Madagascar's Protected Areas Following Violence to Environmental Activists

To read this release in French, click here.

MADAGASCAR—While the Malagasy environmental activist Armand Marozafy was denied his request for parole this very day, Isabelle Autissier, Françis Hallé, Thierry Lhermitte, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, and Alexander von Bismarck appear together in a video that shows the dramatic consequences of the illegal logging of rosewood in protected areas of Madagascar, such as the Masoala National Park, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site. They ask the Malagasy Government and the United Nations to:

o Free Armand Marozafy, a local tourist guide and the president of the local civil society organisation COSAP (Comité de Soutien des Aires Protégées), who has been imprisoned for denouncing illegal rosewood trafficking since 27 April 2015 o Protect all Malagasy environmental activists, in particular Augustin Sarovy whose life was threatened and who now lives as an “ecological” refugee in Europe o Create an international commission to efficiently fight the illegal logging and trafficking of rosewood by mafia-style business people destroying Madagascar’s protected forests o Enforce immediately Madagascar’s laws, in particular those concerning the fight against the illegal logging of rosewood, the protection of the fragile ecosystems and the protection of the populations’ welfare whose livelihoods depend on the forests

Madagascar is an island with a rich and unique biodiversity, home to the world’s entire population of lemurs and to half of the world’s species of chameleons; the majority of its flora cannot be found anywhere else on Earth.

Originally completely covered by trees, 80% of the island’s bountiful forests have already disappeared, due mostly to human activity.

The remaining forests are threatened by fires, the conversion to agro-pastoral uses and illegal logging. Since 2009, in the wake of the coup against then President Marc Ravalomana, Madagascar’s public institutions have been dramatically weakened. Taking advantage of this situation, numerous “timber barons”, namely of Chinese origin, have started to illegally cut and export rosewood that is been used for the fabrication of luxury furniture, marquetry and guitar fingerboards. All non-protected forests nearly depleted of rosewood, trees are felled by axes or chainsaws mainly in protected areas, significantly affecting primary forests. Logs are pulled to rivers, tied together in fours or fives and floated downriver to landing points for transport to waiting ships or transitionary depots along the coast. The temporary settling of a big number of loggers in the forests puts an additional huge pressure on the fragile ecosystem, in particular by hunting animals like the lemurs, which are legally protected.

Different investigations have shown that even some public institutions (police, local judiciary courts) are at instances corrupted, and some NGOs are infiltrated by supporters of traffickers.

The petition launched by Free Forest, an association of Malagasy and French ecologists, with the support of NGOs, such as EIA, Global Witness, WWF France and Regard du Vivant, and public personalities call upon the Malagasy government and the International Community to establish efficient and transparent mechanisms to combat the trafficking of rosewood. It furthermore asks for the unconditional liberation of Armand Marozafy and the withdrawal of the legal proceedings against him, and the strict protection of Malagasy environmental activists in their country whose lives continue to be threatened.

Watch the video here.
Participate in the petition calling on the Malagasy government here.

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Contact:
Europe: Free Forest Madagascar, Email: madafreeforest@gmail.com, Phone: +33.(0)6.71.64.17.38 (Cyril Girard), +33.(0)6.09.41.39.24 (Frédéric Larrey)
America: EIA-US, Email: mdewane@eia-global.org, Phone: +1.202.483.6621 (Maggie Dewane)
Madagascar: +261.20.(0)32.72.053.81 and et +261.20.(0)34.66.622.35

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