For Madagascar and its people: Secure the Rosewood Stockpiles now!
by Mark W. Roberts, Derek Schuurman, Lucienne Wilmé, Patrick O. Waeber, 19 November 2022
Controversy surrounds stockpiles of potentially hundreds of thousands of rosewood logs which the Malagasy Government now intends to use, ostensibly exclusively domestically. While agreed upon, the Madagascar Action Plan was simply never implemented. None of the stockpiles has ever been secured and many are hiding in plain sight. Further troubling is the amplified risk of freshly logged rosewood being laundered.
During Madagascar’s 2009–2013 political crisis, there was wholesale felling of rosewood and ebony trees across the country, especially inside national parks and UNESCO-designated areas. Today, hundreds of thousands of illegally sourced logs remain in stockpiles scattered across the island. Because they escalate the demand for illegally- trafficked rosewood and ebony, these stockpiles have been a never-ending source of corruption.
An inventory contracted by the World Bank in 2013 divided the stockpiles of logs into three categories: “official” (audited but not secured); “undeclared” (stored and therefore visible, but not audited because of interference) and “hidden” (an unknown number of which the existence is based on stumps and on testimonies, closed to inspection). Only 30,000 logs make up the “official,” audited stockpiles.
The 2013 Action Plan adopted by CITES when Malagasy rosewood and ebony were listed, emphasized that the only way to protect these endemic tree species is for all the stockpiles to be audited, secured and inventoried. Unfortunately however, none of the stockpiles has ever been secured and many, if not most, are hiding in plain sight. As a priority, these controversial logs need to be collected and secured at a facility in Madagascar, under the management of an independent entity. For the benefit of the Malagasy people, that is where they should be held.
This is Message in a Capsule #3.
Rosewood stocks. Image by L. Taylor.