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

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs