CITES rejects Madagascar’s bid to sell rosewood and ebony stockpiles

first_imgThe standing committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) had its annual meeting in Geneva November 27 through December 1.The committee rejected Madagascar’s petition to sell its stockpiles of seized rosewood and ebony that had been illegally cut from the country’s rainforests.CITES delegates agreed that while a future sale of the stockpiles might be possible, Madagascar was not yet ready for such a risky undertaking, which could allow newly chopped logs to be laundered and traded overseas.Other notable outcomes of the CITES meeting dealt with the sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis), pangolins, and the critically endangered vaquita porpoise (Phocoena sinus). In August, the government of Madagascar drafted a business plan to sell its stockpiles of rosewood and ebony — hundreds of thousands of logs. The plan required the approval of CITES, which has banned the trade of all species of Malagasy rosewood (Dalbergia spp.) and ebony (Diospyros spp.) since 2013.On December 1 during a five-day meeting of its standing committee in Geneva, CITES rejected the plan because of the government’s lack of progress in tackling the so-called rosewood crisis and its failure, thus far, to audit enough of the stockpiles. Illegal logging of rosewood and other precious timber spiked in Madagascar’s northeastern rainforests, including in national parks, following a 2009 coup. The logging has since declined but the fate of stockpiled wood has remained an open question.Madagascar’s government controls only a small portion of the stockpiles. Most of the rosewood covered by the business plan is in “declared” stockpiles that remain in the possession of timber traders and have never been fully counted or verified. Most observers believe that timber barons have over-declared the number of logs in their stockpiles so that they can keep adding to them, and that theStockpiled rosewood logs outside the provincial forestry and environment office in the northeastern city of Antalaha fill more than half the courtyard to head-height, but local officials there have no record of how much wood they are charged with securing. Photo by Rowan Moore Gerety for Mongabay.stockpiles are now being used as clearinghouses for newly cut, illegal timber. Millions more logs not covered by the government’s sale plan remain in hidden “undeclared” stockpiles around northeast Madagascar, observers believe.CITES delegates from the United States, the European Union, and various non-governmental organizations were vocal participants in rosewood discussions. These parties agreed that while a future sale of the stockpiles might be possible, Madagascar is not yet ready for such a risky undertaking. If not done carefully, such a sale could allow newly chopped logs to enter the international market. The rosewood issue did not come to a vote, but was decided by consensus.In the past few years, Malagasy authorities and foreign consultants made several haphazard efforts to audit the stockpiles. Many of the logs now have colored markings from the different audits. These markings are often found on Malagasy rosewood that is seized at international ports, according to conservation NGOs — a sure sign that traffickers are accessing the stockpiles.“We know that the stockpiles are fluid, and they have been taken from already,” Colman O’Criodain, a policy manager at WWF who attended the CITES meeting told Mongabay. “There have been big seizures of wood that was once in these stockpiles.”Logs in a government stockpile in the northeastern city of Antalaha. Many bear the marks of multiple rosewood inventories carried out since 2010: barcodes affixed in late 2015, as well as blue, yellow, and red paint from earlier counts. Photo by Rowan Moore Gerety for Mongabay.Rosewood, which has a rich crimson interior, is the most trafficked type of wildlife in the world. Almost all of it ends up in China, where it’s used in high-end furniture.In Madagascar, storage costs are low, but maintaining the stockpiles nonetheless presents major challenges. Traffickers steal from the stockpiles or use them to launder illegal wood, sometimes by swapping out real rosewood logs for pine or eucalyptus. And the longer the wood sits outside government offices or in metal containers, the more its quality diminishes. After a year or two, the wood can grow dry and crack, reducing its value.At the CITES meeting, Johanita Ndahimananjara, Madagascar’s Minister of Environment, Ecology, and Forests, argued that Madagascar needs to sell the stockpiled rosewood in order to fund its rosewood conservation efforts. Her plan called for Madagascar to buy $7 million worth of rosewood and ebony from the owners of the declared stockpiles and then sell it in a series of international auctions. It is unclear how much Madagascar could earn from the such auctions; the business plan listed potential values ranging from under $5 million to upwards of $136 million.Almost everyone in the room opposed Madagascar’s plan. Among other issues, conservation groups did not support the plan to pay timber traders $7 million.“It would undermine the very work they are trying to do” to manage the crisis, Susanne Breitkopf, a forest policy manager at the Environmental Investigation Agency who attended the CITES meeting, told Mongabay.Breitkopf and O’Criodain both told Mongabay that the only party to support Madagascar’s business plan was in fact the World Bank. But Benjamin Garnaud, a natural resource management specialist for the World Bank who is based in Madagascar and who attended the CITES meeting, told Mongabay that he agreed with the NGOs on the central question at hand: Madagascar is absolutely not ready to sell its stock, he said.The World Bank is working with Madagascar to set up a stockpile disposal mechanism: the logs must be inspected, graded, marked with anti-counterfeit technology, transported, and ultimately sold or disposed of in another way. To build this mechanism, the World Bank has already loaned Madagascar $3 to $4 million. Garnaud suggested that if the logs don’t end up being sold, they could be used for furniture in Malagasy schools. Madagascar could also burn the logs, as some African countries have done with ivory from elephant tusks.Last year, CITES declared that Madagascar must audit at least one third of its stockpiles before the ban on the trade of rosewood and ebony could be lifted. But it’s difficult to determine the number of logs in the stockpiles. Garnaud estimates that there are about 30,000 logs in seized government stockpiles, and about 300,000 in declared private stock, but there have been five inventories since 2011, each producing different results. The biggest problem with the “one-third” stipulation, according to Garnaud, is that if Madagascar sold one third of its logs before fully accounting for the rest, it would open the door for timber barons to add newly cut rosewood, or hidden stock, into the “declared” group.Last week, CITES issued a new recommendation to Madagascar: find and recover the rosewood from the hidden stockpiles. The standing committee also, for the first time, explicitly asked Madagascar to prosecute high-level offenders in the rosewood trade, which the government has not done in recent years.The next CITES standing committee meeting will be in Russia in October 2018. That will be Madagascar’s next opportunity to petition the body to sell the stockpiles.Chart shows estimates of the number of rosewood logs in stockpiles of seized wood owned by the Madagascar government (Seized) and in the possession of rosewood operators who have declared them to the government (Declared). There are also  undeclared rosewood stocks in private hands that are believed to outsize even the declared stocks. Numbers for 2010 through 2013 come from a 2016 report by the NGO TRAFFIC that relied on Madagascar government data; numbers for 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 come from a report [pdf] by the Madagascar government to the CITES standing committee in advance of its recent meeting.Other developments at the CITES meetingLast week’s standing committee meeting was the largest on record, with more than 500 participants. They discussed a large slate of issues from around the world, including three that garnered particular attention.Japan came under heavy scrutiny for targeting sei whales (Balaenoptera borealis) in the North Pacific. The whales are listed under Appendix I of CITES, meaning they are threatened with extinction and can only be traded “in exceptional circumstances.” Japan says its whaling program is for research purposes, so the standing committee decided to do more fact-finding before taking further action. Environmental groups were disappointed; they say Japan’s program has killed 134 of the endangered whales so far this year.Last year, CITES placed a ban on the trade of pangolins, the world’s most trafficked mammals, but at the Geneva meeting, China requested an exemption for stockpiled pangolin scales. The request was voted down almost unanimously. (This was the only issue that came to a vote all week; most CITES decisions are made by consensus.)In the final action of the week, the United States, Mexico, and China agreed to take steps to protect the vaquita (Phocoena sinus), a small porpoise found only in the Gulf of California. The vaquita is critically endangered, with only around 30 individuals left, due to illegal fishing of totoaba, a critically endangered fish whose swim bladders are often smuggled through the United States en route to China. A high-level CITES mission to Mexico will take place in February.A pangolin at a rescue center in Cambodia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.Banner image: Red ruffed lemur (Varecia rubra), a species that lives in northeastern Madagascar, where rosewood logging has been severe. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Biodiversity, Biodiversity Hotspots, Cites, Conservation, Crime, Deforestation, Ecology, Ecosystems, Environment, Environmental Crime, Environmental Policy, Featured, Forest Products, Forests, Governance, Green, Habitat, Habitat Degradation, Habitat Destruction, Illegal Logging, Logging, National Parks, Organized Crime, Parks, Protected Areas, Rainforest Conservation, Rainforest Deforestation, Rainforest Destruction, Rainforests, Rosewood, Trees, Wildlife center_img Article published by Rebecca Kesslerlast_img read more

Do protected areas work in the tropics?

first_imgTo find out if terrestrial protected areas are effective in achieving their environmental and socioeconomic goals, we read 56 scientific studies. (See the interactive infographic below.)Overall, protected areas do appear to reduce forest cover loss. But other ecological outcomes of protected areas, like biodiversity or illegal hunting, remain extremely understudied.The evidence on socioeconomic impacts is very thin. What limited rigorous research exists shows that protected areas do not exacerbate poverty generally, but anecdotal studies suggest that protected areas could be making other aspects of people’s well-being worse off.This is part of a special Mongabay series on “Conservation Effectiveness”. In 1986, Patricia Wright, then a budding primatologist, spent weeks combing the rainforests of eastern Madagascar in search of the greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus), a five-pound bamboo-eating primate that was feared extinct. It was only once she stopped over at a hotel in a small village for a night that her luck changed.Behind the hotel was a river, and across the river was a majestic rainforest where Wright spotted not only the greater bamboo lemur, but another species of bamboo lemur that was unknown to Western science.The discoveries were exciting. But droves of loggers were moving into the rainforest with axes to cut down the grand old trees and ship the wood to Europe — legally, it appeared.Worried that her beloved lemur-filled forest would soon be gone, Wright approached the director of what is now the Ministry of Environment, Ecology and Forests and pleaded her case. “The director told me that when he gave the timber concessions he didn’t know there was a new species to science and a rediscovered species in the forest,” Wright, now at Stony Brook University in New York, U.S., told Mongabay. “But now I was there to tell him that this forest is very special and should be protected.”To her surprise, the director suggested turning the forest into a national park, but only if Wright arranged the funds for it and did most of the legwork herself. Over the next five years, Wright raised more than $5 million and carved out the boundary of what would soon become Ranomafana National Park in consultation with people who lived around the forest. Finally, on May 31, 1991, the park was officially inaugurated with elders from 57 nearby villages attending the ceremony.Wright had gone in search of a lemur, but she had helped create a protected area. Twenty-five years later, Ranomafana National Park looks like an island of dense green being choked by waves of deforestation from all sides. “I know for sure that the rainforest wouldn’t exist today had it not been for the national park,” Wright said. “The north of the park, for instance, was all forest when we started. It’s all gone now.”National parks like Ranomafana and other protected areas have long been considered the one-stop solution to conserving terrestrial biodiversity and forests. They are seen as conservation success stories. But what happens after you create a protected area? Does establishing a protected area on paper really “protect” a forest? Do a park’s plants and animals thrive because of their forest home’s new legal status? And what happens to the people living in and around the park? We tried to find out by reviewing some of the scientific literature that looks at the effects of this popular conservation strategy.last_img read more