April 22, 2016
The Taking of Trees in Madagascar
- as seen by -Alison Clausen @WCS_Madahttp://madagascar.wcs.org
In a recent visit to Masoala National Park in northeast Madagascar, we came across this young rosewood tree. Masoala National Park – long called the jewel of Madagascar’s national park network – has been at the center of illegal exploitation of rosewood and ebony over the last six years.
This trade generates hundreds of millions of dollars for the traffickers who organize the cutting and export of logs, but brings next to nothing to local communities who live around the national park. The exploitation not only destroys populations of these very slow-growing and ecologically important tree species, but also leads to the hunting of lemurs – including the critically endangered red ruffed lemur (above) – by loggers who live in the forest during cutting campaigns.
This tree (inset) which is probably around 30 or 40 years old had been attacked with an ax despite its very small size. Although it had not yet been felled, the fact that it had been targeted is in itself a very worrying sign, as it provides further evidence that mature specimens are becoming rarer and rarer in and around the national park, and the youngest of trees are being harvested.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Today is Earth Day 2016 – Trees for the Earth. Only 9 – 10% of Madagascar’s native forests remain with deforestation rates among the highest in the world.