Rosewood, which grows in the rainforests of Madagascar, has surpassed ivory in terms of illegally harvested and traded plant/animal products worldwide and their black-market value.
Sadly, much of Madagascar’s remaining rosewood is in protected areas, such as national parks and reserves, and illegal logging destroys not just the rosewood trees but also the other trees surrounding them. The presence of loggers within the protected forests can also lead to the hunting/killing of lemurs, to feed the workers there to harvest the wood, and as “bushmeat” to be sold in towns. (See “Lemur on the menu: most-endangered primates still served in Madagascar.”)
Read more in a recent Dan Ashby/Lucy Taylor article from the SAVA about the illegal rosewood trade, including the Malagasy government’s proposed solution (presented to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES) of selling existing confiscated stocks: https://news.mongabay.com/2017/11/madagascar-petitions-cites-to-sell-millions-in-stolen-rosewood. Be sure to catch the video piece towards the end of the article.
As we near the year’s end, it’s also worth remembering the environmental activists, rangers, park guards, and indigenous people worldwide who risk their lives or imprisonment to do what they believe strongly in, or what is just simply their job. With forests shrinking annually, such conflict will continue to rise: last year there were over 150 deaths related to the environment and forest protection, and many others were unjustly imprisoned. This year is on track to exceed those numbers, with the Philippines, Brazil, and Colombia being particularly dangerous countries in which to take an environmental stance.
In Madagascar, Clovis Razafimalala recently spent 10 months in prison, without a trial, for standing up for his beliefs (and simply doing his job) by challenging rosewood traffickers in the Masoala. The Masoala is a national park in northeastern Madagascar, south of the SAVA region, and a hotspot for the illegal rosewood trade. Here is a short video clip about Clovis done by Amnesty International: https://www.facebook.com/igersmadagascar/videos/1309104949192014/.
To learn more about illegal logging in Madagascar, the BBC documentary “Madagascar, Lemurs, and Spies” is a good place to start: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pp-lbpuA1Rg.
What can you do? When purchasing wood – or furniture or musical instruments made from woods like ebony, rosewood, and other rare species – ALWAYS confirm that the wood was sourced from LEGAL logging. Illegal logging drives deforestation in countries around the world, not just Madagascar; and up to 10% of the global wood supply is sourced illegally. Learn more HERE.