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Madagascar petitions CITES to sell millions in stolen rosewood

13 / 11 / 2017, Mongabaycom News

SAVA REGION, Madagascar — Madagascar is applying to sell millions of dollars’ worth of illegally logged timber, prompting fears of a bonanza for traffickers. The country has stockpiled tens of thousands of precious rosewood logs seized from illegal loggers who cut them from beautiful, ostensibly protected national parks. An export ban has been in place since 2010, but Madagascar has now applied to the wildlife regulators under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to sell thousands of tons of the wood to China, Japan, the United States and the European Union. It also wants to facilitate sales in five other countries where stocks are being held. The CITES Standing Committee will make a recommendation later this month on whether sales should go ahead. The government’s own director of forestry in the affected Sava region in northern Madagascar admitted to Mongabay that he fears that the “rosewood mafia” still owns many stocks. “It’s hard to tell who are the legitimate owners and who are the dangerous people, so it’s like a mafia action,” said Arsonina Bera. “That’s why I’m saying it’s better to destroy the wood because otherwise the mafia would further intervene in our lives.” Members of parliament and other public officials own stockpiles, according to Bera. The UK-based NGO TRAFFIC estimates that 98 percent of all Madagascan rosewood (genus Dalbergia) is exported to China, where it is prized for its deep red color and often crafted into high-end furniture. Rosewood has become the world’s biggest wildlife…

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