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Conservationists call for lasting ban on trade in Malagasy precious timber

03 / 05 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

For over a decade Madagascar has wrestled with a thorny question: What to do with stockpiles of illegal precious timber in government custody? A new analysis contends that selling off the confiscated timber would fuel rather than curb illegal felling and trade of endangered tree species. What needs to be done, according to a paper published recently in Biological Conservation, is to offer the hardwood species the highest level of protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) rather than sign off on a government plan to legally sell it. The fate of the stockpile could be decided at the next CITES conference of parties, which was scheduled to be in Sri Lanka later this May but has now been postponed following the terrorist attacks there on Easter. “Across Madagascar, these trees have been heavily exploited, even inside protected areas. Neglecting to move them up to Appendix I, can result in certain species being driven to extinction before being formally described,” authors, Patrick O. Waeber at the Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems, Derek Schuurman, product manager for Madagascar at a U.K. based tour company, and Lucienne Wilmé of the Washington, D.C.-based NGO World Resources Institute told Mongabay in a joint email response. All trade is banned for species listed in CITES Appendix I. Wood from tree species in two genera from Madagascar, Dalbergia (rosewood and palisander) and Diospyros (ebony), is considered precious timber. They’re coveted for their rich hue, fragrance and durability, and used in…

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