Briefing Document / Feb. 3, 2012

International NGO letter regarding the sale of confiscated precious wood in Madagascar

Please see the attached letter from seven international non-governmental organizations, experts on the topic of illegal logging in Madagascar, to the Minister of Environment and Forests of Madagascar, regarding the risk that a proposed poorly managed sale of illegally-sourced ebony and rosewood currently poses. We recommend that he take careful steps to ensure that all options for disposal, destruction, or sale of existing and  future precious woods stocks be evaluated carefully before any action is taken, and that all such actions be conducted in a transparent manner that deters future illegal activity, does not benefit criminal actors in Madagascar or elsewhere, and does not generate renewed demand for the same product on international markets, with the consequence of continuing illegal trade in Malagasy precious wood.

We commend the government for its recent crackdown on traders of illegal timber, and on its success in obtaining CITES Appendix III listing for various rosewood and ebony species.  However, the groups caution that selling wood that has been clearly cut illegally from national parks will send the wrong signal to global markets, thus stimulating renewed demand and perpetuating the cycle of illegal logging, seizures, and sale.