Hundreds of people linked to the illegal precious wood trade have moved into the two parks and their periphery. While the State Party reports that 11,305 people are present within the parks’ periphery, NGOs report that the population probably exceeds 50,000 people.
In March 2010, the World Conservation Society (WCS) issued a report based on a lemurs survey realized in Masoala National Park in February and March. The report indicates that populations of lemurs have been disturbed on sites affected by illegal logging: for some species, such as Varecia rubra (on the IUCN red list as in danger) and Eulemur albifrons (on the IUCN red list as vulnerable), the population density was reduced by 30% to 75% and a major reduction in female fertility was observed, causing a low rate of population’s renewal and impacting the distribution of species on a long term basis.
In its state of conservation report, the State Party noted the need for international assistance to support field surveys in Masoala and Marojejy National Parks during the course of 2010 in order to determine the extent of the damage caused by illegal logging. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that following the political crisis in January 2009, key international donors, including the World Bank and USAID, suspended most of their aid to Madagascar. Many of these frozen programmes included capacity building for forestry and park officials, implementing chain-of-custody and tracking systems for timber, and provision of funding to the Ministry of Environment and Forests; this aid suspension resulted in the Ministry operating with only 10% of its previous budget. As a result, operations of mixed patrols composed of police, gendarme and park agents were halted due to funding shortages, leaving the parks exposed to illegal logging. The State Party on 15 March 2010 submitted an emergency request to the World Heritage Fund for funding for mapping the impacts of deforestation and organising patrolling missions. The World Heritage Centre requested some additional details on the budget and the implementation of the proposal and the request will be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN were also informed of a proposal to inscribe rosewood from Madagascar on CITES Annex III. They note that inscription on Annex III still allows the country to determine export quota. Options to list the relevant species in Annex II or I of CITES may therefore be more appropriate. The World Heritage Centre was also informed that a study has been commissioned by the ITTO (International Tropical Timber Organization) to determine the exact status of the species and provide advice on Listing.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are extremely concerned by ongoing illegal logging within Masoala and Marojejy National Parks, which is directly threatening the property’s Outstanding Universal Value. They note that the secondary effects of illegal logging are documented to be far more serious than the direct effects of stand reduction and habitat disturbance. Cumulatively, these effects are likely to amplify the direct impacts of illegal logging and cause serious long-term, and in some cases irreversible, ecological damage. Therefore the World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider the current situation is directly threatening the values for which the site is inscribed under criteria (x), as a result of the direct and indirect impacts on threatened endemic species, but also under criteria (ix), as a result of the impact on the ecosystem processes. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also note from reports that already a commercial lemur bushmeat trade based in Masoala and Marojejy National Parks is developing. These reports are particularly worrying as previously there was virtually no commercial bushmeat trade in Madagascar.
It is further noted that in spite of the recent decree banning all export and exploitation of rosewood and ebony, it has not slowed down illegal logging. In addition reports indicate export permits continue to be granted, contrary to the decree. Therefore, the World Heritage Centre consider that this is a clear case of ascertained threat to the Outstanding Universal value of the property and consider the property meet the criteria for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN further recommend an urgent monitoring mission to the property to develop the corrective measures and a timeframe for their implementation
State of conservation of World Heritage properties inscribed on the World Heritage List
WHC-10/34.COM/7B.Add, p. 8