Madagascar battles exotic timber felling

May 23, 2011 at 9:05 PM
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ANTALAHA, Madagascar, May 23 (UPI) -- Authorities in Madagascar say logging of precious woods persists in its forests despite a 2010 decree banning logging, transporting and export of such woods.

Police seized 30 tons of rosewood being transported in two trucks last month in Antalaha, on the northeastern coast of the country where the problem is most acute, Inter Press Service reported last week.

Three trucks transporting 115 rosewood logs were intercepted in the southeast of the island a few days earlier, and more than 1,000 pieces of another kind of precious rosewood found in Malagasy forests have been seized in the same region.

Madagascar has the biggest rosewood reserves in the world.

"The logging does not only impact in the northeast, but is spread across the whole country, particularly in the southeast and northwest," said Ndranto Razakamanarina, a forestry engineer and president of the Voahary Gasy alliance, a coalition of organizations working for the protection of the environment. "The poachers continue their illegal activities, hoping to sell their products when timber sales are authorized again."

At Antalaha, the police force says it lacks the resources for sufficient surveillance.

"For a district that covers more than 400 kilometers (250 miles) of forest, there are only 70 monitors," a police officer told IPS.

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