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Criminal gangs plunder Madagascar forests

Source:  Copyright 2009, Reuters
Date:  November 28, 2009
Original URL: Status ONLINE

Criminal gangs are stripping Madagascar's poorly-protected national parks every day of precious hardwood worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, two environmental campaign groups have said.

In a report issued this week, Global Witness and the Environmental Investigation Agency said between 100 and 200 rare rosewood trees were cut down each day with only a fraction, about 1,000 cubic meters, being exported each month.

Much of the wood was being stored until further export authorizations were granted for illegally cut timber, the report said.

"Timber traders have effectively bought the right to pillage the country's parks with impunity. They are extracting up to $800,000 a day worth of timber," said Reiner Tegtmeyer of Global Witness.

In September, the government authorized the export of 325 containers of timber. Conservation groups say the order legalized the sale of illegally cut wood and collected wood. The government denies ...

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