Interview: Madagascar’s rosewood stocks – which way to go?
For centuries, people around the globe have admired Rosewood. Malagasy rosewoods (Dalbergia spp.) are especially valued for their qualities. In recent years, illegal sourcing of rosewood escalated to unprecedented levels: this coincided with the political fallout from 2009-2013. The wood has been – and is - sourced mainly from protected areas in eastern Madagascar. Before being exported, timber is stockpiled, mostly in well-concealed localities. Despite an international ban on export and trading, the timber has been – and continues to – leave Madagascar. The species targeted are CITES listed, which means that trading them is forbidden. Most of the wood has been shipped to China, where demand for it is enormous. In 2011, stocks were estimated to be in excess of 500,000 tons. In 2013, the international community, spearheaded by the SADC were to prepare new presidential elections which were expected to put an end to the political and economic crisis of what is an increasingly beleaguered nation. In the same period, the World Bank implemented a project aimed at finding a solution of how to deal with the controversial rosewood stocks. At time of writing, this remains a topic of debate. Experts in a previous MCD interview suggested either to destroy the stocks in order to avoid further illegal sourcing of timber from protected areas, or to establish a timber bank of sorts. All agreed that selling the wood would be a double-edged sword: while it brings much- needed revenues to the empty coffers of the government, it may fuel and further increase demand for Rosewood. A noticeable and lengthy silence followed, with virtually no coverage in the national and international media. The World Bank project (#PO93271) comes to an end in December 2015: “all illegal precious woods stockpiles sized by Government have been audited and secured”. The journal MCD is asking the 2011 questions – four years later, and would like to give voice to some of the experts and practitioners involved in this rosewood crisis.