authorisation was delivered on 21 September 2009 for the export of 25 containers. In spite of these special authorisations, all logging of rosewood and ebony remained illegal.
However, the Global Witness / EIA report clearly demonstrates that much larger volumes were exported under the cover of these decrees. It further notes that most of the timber did not originate from old stocks, but was freshly extracted from the three National Parks mentioned above. The report estimates the illegal extraction at 200 to 300 m3 per day, equivalent to 100 to 200 trees a day, harvested illegally in Masoala and Mananara National Parks and representing a commercial value of USD 800,000. Following the political crisis in January 2009, nearly 7,000 tonnes of rosewood valued at 16 million euros left the port of Vohémar. The investigation team observed that rosewood was transported openly on the roads controlled by the police and forestry administration. Based on the evidence it was able to collect, the report concludes there is complicity of many government services in the timber trafficking, including the forest administration, regional authorities and even members of the taskforce which was set up to halt the illegal logging activities. It further notes that most export licences provided by the different government services are actually in violation of the legislation and points out that certain illegal stocks were “legalised” against the payment of a fine. The report further clarifies that almost all rosewood transports are destined to China.
On 12 March 2010, the World Heritage Centre wrote a letter to the State Party, expressing its concern over repeated reports on these continuing illegal activities in the two parks. The letter reminded the State Party of the provisions of the List of World Heritage in Danger, as set out in paragraphs 177-189 of the Operational Guidelines, and noted the possibility of the property meeting the criteria for inclusion on the List of World Heritage in Danger if illegal logging was not stopped.
On 24 March 2010 a new ministerial decree N° 2010-141 was issued, restoring the ban on the exploitation and exportation of rosewood and ebony. Nevertheless, according to reports received by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, illegal logging activities are continuing and permits are still issued to export timber, in violation of the decree, and in complicity with high authorities in Government.
With regard to the impact on the property, the State Party report concludes that the illegal logging of precious woods has lead to a reduction in overall rosewood stands in the two components of the property without resulting in an extinction risk within. However, it notes that the high level of disturbance resulting from illegal logging had knock-on effects on wildlife, including diurnal lemurs. The State Party specifically reports on increased poaching of diurnal lemurs by illegal loggers within both parks, and notes the need for a detailed field survey to establish the current population levels of each diurnal lemur species within the parks. Despite this, the State Party considers that most of the Outstanding Universal Value of Masoala and Marojejy National Parks remains intact, while acknowledging that significant negative impacts on Masoala’s values are likely.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that following the submission of the State Party report in November 2009, an aerial survey was undertaken in early March 2010 in collaboration with Madagascar National Park’s conservation partners, as well as the World Bank and the American and Norwegian embassies. This survey confirmed the presence of several illegal logging camps within both Masoala and Marojejy National Parks. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN have also received reports from NGOs indicating that hundreds of loggers are currently operating within Masoala, while Marojejy, though less affected, is still experiencing illegal logging. Information from experts working in the field indicates that the equivalent of 1,500 ship containers of precious woods have been illegally harvested (as of March 2010) and several reports have noted that loggers now need to look sometimes several days to find another rosewood tree to cut, indicating the rapid disappearance of these endemic tree species. Other sources indicate that because of the scarcity of rosewood, there is a gradual shift from illegal logging to other illegal resource extraction, such as the artisanal mining of gemstones. Increased agricultural encroachment has also been reported.
State of conservation of World Heritage properties inscribed on the World Heritage List
WHC-10/34.COM/7B.Add, p. 7