Great article on rosewood

I just stumbled across this article this morning when looking through my feeds. This is a very extensive article on what is happening to the environment in Madagascar and the environment in which people live over there.

National Geographic: Madagascar’s Pierced Heart

Here are some excerpts:

Remon doesn’t like the work. The timber boss who employs him—but whose name he does not know—has told Remon that he must paddle all day without pause because the rangers have been bribed to stay away for only a finite period, after which another bribe will be expected. Still, transporting the fallen trees is better than cutting them down, which had been Remon’s previous job. He quit after concluding that the risks had become too great. While illegal logging had been going on for years, the pace had suddenly escalated: The forest was unpoliced and filled with organ ized gangs, a free-for-all of deforestation spurred by the collapse of Madagascar’s government in March of 2009 and by the insatiable appetite of Chinese timber procurers, who imported more than 200 million dollars’ worth of rosewood from the country’s northeastern forests in just a few months. One rosewood cutter Remon knew had been robbed of his harvest by forest thugs who told him, “There’s 30 of us, one of you.” And he’s just heard that two men were decapitated with a machete over a timber dispute a few days ago.

In September 2009, after months during which up to 460,000 dollars’ worth of rosewood was being illegally harvested every day, the cash-strapped new government reversed a 2000 ban on the export of rosewood and released a decree legalizing the sale of stockpiled logs. Pressured by an alarmed international community, the gov ernment reinstated the ban in April. Yet logging continues.

The residents of Antalaha who suddenly found themselves dodging motorcycle traffic also began to notice the price of fish, rice, and other daily goods begin to climb. The reason was simple: Fewer men were out at sea or in the fields.

“They’re in the forest,” says Michel Lomone, the vanilla exporter. “Everyone’s gone to the forest.”

The rosewood is cut into logs about seven feet long. Another team of two men tie ropes around each log and proceed to drag it out of the forest to the river’s edge, a feat that will take them two days and earn them $10 to $20 a log, depending on the distance. While staggering through the forest myself, from time to time I come upon the jarring apparition of two stoic figures tugging a 400-pound log up some impossible gradient or down a waterfall or across quicksand-like bogs—a hard labor of biblical scale, except that these men are doing this for money. As is the man the pair would meet up with at the river, waiting to tie the log to a handcrafted radeau, or raft, to help it float down the rapids ($25 a log). As is the pirogueman awaiting the radeau where the rapids subside ($12 a log). As is the park ranger whom the timber bosses have bribed to stay away ($200 for two weeks). As are police at checkpoints along the road to Antalaha ($20 an officer). The damage to the forest is far more than the loss of the precious hardwoods: For each dense rosewood log, four or five lighter trees are cut down to create the raft that will transport it down the river.

Check out the article, it is very interesting.


It’s been awhile

I was taking a little hiatus from blogging since everything Madagascar was stuck in a perpetual loop of failure, so glad that when I return things have changed (sarcasm).

The problem of course is that things haven’t changed, not even a bit. Since May all that has been occurring basically is a bunch of scientists stating that Madagascar is soon to be a paradise lost:

I completely agree that the world is losing something special with the loss of all the fauna/flora in Madagascar, but you can hardly expect anything less when the illegal government of Madagascar is using the sale of rosewood to prop itself up (and who knows what else).

Aside from the worlds concern over Madagascar’s precious fauna/flora there has been virtually zero interest in the people of Madagascar,  which of course led to the lack of stories and progress in the country.

I am truly starting to believe that the world is becoming complacent and bored of hearing about the endless negotiations between 3 ex-presidents and an illegal government, I know I am, here’s why:

July 22nd, 2010: Chief mediator in fresh Madagascar peace bid

There was hardly any news on this latest attempt at all, let alone the results of the talks.

I have started to lose count as to how many times Joaquim Chissano has gone to Madagascar to try and talk to all the politicians as it happens so often. But you have to ask, how useful will these supposed talks be if Andry Rajoelina has refused to negotiate any longer? If you ask me, he probably went for a brief 4 day vacation in Madagascar to see how everyone is doing. There were no talks, well none that anyone has recorded and published as a news story. Even the article announcing that there were to be new talks sounds too apologetic:

“I do not come with preconceived ideas. I want to know, at this level, given all what has happened, what Madagascans think,” he told AFP.

“We have come to offer our good services. To help find a solution. The process belongs to the people of Madagascar,” Chissano said.

There are and will not be any negotiations for quite some time, there is no need to as nothing is currently driving Rajoelina to require anything outside of Madagascar.

August 06th, 2010: Impasse in Madagascar concerns SADC leaders

Really? The SADC is “concerned”? That’s it after over a year and a half? How is the concern of this seemingly useless African body going to help Madagascar? They are about as useful as Joaquim Chissano has been.

Then there is this:

The body was “satisfied” with the “improved political situation and consequent economic recuperation” in Zimbabwe, Mozambique’s Deputy-Minister of Foreign Affairs Aiuba Cuereneia said at the opening ceremony.

They are “satisfied” with Zimbabwe? Really, there can be this much progress in Zimbabwe to be satisfied? I imagine if that is satisfying enough for them, then I am sure that Madagascar will clear up sometime soon.

August 14th, 2010: Madagascar leader signs deal with minor parties

Despite all the concern and attempts at negotiations Rajoelina forges ahead and signs some sort of a deal with 99 parties (excluding the 3 former presidents) so that they can go ahead with elections crafted by the HAT government? Come on! Seriously? I can’t believe that I can’t find any articles or comments on how this is another unilateral move by Rajoelina! Nobody cares anymore (except those in the linked article).

Madgascar’s President Andry Rajoelina signed a deal late on Friday with dozens of minor parties aimed at ending a protracted political crisis, but the pact was rejected by the country’s main opposition leaders. Speaking at the signing ceremony, Rajoelina said it marked a step towards a new constitution for the country, adding: “Our signatures take us in that direction.” The agreement between the 36-year-old former disc jockey and 99 parties confirmed him as president, giving him the power to appoint ministers on the recommendation of party leaders and members of the interim two-chamber parliament. The deal also changed election dates that were initially agreed earlier this week. A referendum on a new constitution will be held as planned on Nov. 17 this year. A legislative election will take place on March 16 next year and a presidential ballot on May 4. “No one can any longer criticise the path we have taken as unilateralist.

I don’t know what to be concerned more about, the fact that there are 99 political parties or that Rajoelina was able to pull this hoax off with little to no bad press.  And I am not sure how 99 unknown political parties working with Rajoelina makes this move any less unilateral since he is still an illegal president, and the legitimate president is taking no part in this plan. Also… this plan is no different than any other plan he has had other than there being 99 parties (which is totally unrealistic) agreeing with him.

So  May 29th to August and this is all there is to report on the current situation in Madagascar, this is sad. As I have always said, Rajoelina will be just fine as long as he has money to sustain himself and the army. And it would seem with local trade and the illegal rosewood logging that the Rajoelina government is going to be around for some time to come (because election dates can change right?).