News / Africa

Madagascar Moves to Protect Precious Forests

Madagascar's ring-tailed lemur in the wild.
Madagascar's ring-tailed lemur in the wild.

Multimedia

Audio
Hannah McNeish

Madagascar's Ministry of Environment is heralding the success of a crackdown on illegal logging, notably in the country's northeast where vast protected areas have been the focus of huge trafficking scandals.  The ministry says more than 1,000 precious rosewood logs have been seized in the last two weeks of policing, and that members of a so-called "logging mafia" will face trial. Conservationists welcome the move, but worry it may be temporary after recent warnings to the World Bank about the unchecked plunder of protected areas.  

The head of forests at the ministry of environment, Julien Rakotoarisoa, says the 30-day mission to crack down on illegal logging in northeast Madagascar is aimed at weakening a large trafficking network.

Rakotoarisoa said that “after just a few days, over a thousand pieces of precious wood have been seized”, including highly lucrative but slow-growing rosewood and palisander logs.

In an area held tightly in the grip of what he called a "logging mafia," Rakotoarisoa said 100 members of the security forces were brought from the capital city to help with surveillance and to avoid any further corruption.

He said seven arrests have been made and he said officials were trying to "accelerate the judicial process" so trials could be held.

Judicial proceedings in the town of Antalaha were marked by protests on the streets and outside the courtroom, with the refusal for bail leading to calls for the district judge to be fired.

Local newspapers say protests have been orchestrated by a network, which includes major transport companies, that is lobbying for the suspects, who are charged with illegal transport of logs.

Ndranto Razakamanarina, president of the Alliance of 27 conservation groups in Madagascar, says these kinds of protests are an example of how mafia networks threaten to defy and destabilize the government.  But he says they must not be allowed to win.

“They were caused by mafia barons but it’s for sure that they have many people behind them," said Razakamanarina.  "But it’s not a reason to stop what we should do, because everyone, even those people in these areas know that what they are doing is not sustainable.”

He said ultimatums from the "mafia" led to two decrees under Madagascar's former and current governments in 2009 that allowed certain people to log and export precious woods.

But another decree banning all transportation and logging of woods was made in April 2010 after an international outcry on deforestation in Madagascar and legal action against the government by the conservation alliance.

“Most of these woods were taken in the national parks which is a crime," added Razakamanarina.  "And the exportation officially stopped, but the logging was spread all the way all over the island, because this mafia, this is what they did for years that.  Even though they are not authorized, they cut the woods and they store that somewhere.”

Razakamanarina thinks the recent government crackdown is partly due to a recent annual statement from the alliance, warning the World Bank to support Madagascar’s national parks and biodiversity only if the government shows a willingness to allow the country's natural resources to be protected rather than plundered.

Razakamanarina is positive about the current efforts by the government.  But he thinks that local communities and civil society groups must be given incentives and be properly equipped to be able to tackle such organized crime networks or the plunder of the forests will continue.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid