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
TEXT SIZE - +
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 Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid