A World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission visited the property from 23 to 31 May 2011. The results were presented orally at the 35th session by the World Heritage Centre but not included in the previous state of conservation report. The mission report is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1257/documents/ .
The mission found that illegal logging had been halted in Marojejy National Park (MJNP), but was continuing in Masoala National Park (MSNP). In addition, the mission noted that the illegal logging had started spreading to other protected areas not within the property, but that there was a risk that other components of the property could be affected in the future. The mission took note of the efforts of the State Party to address the issue and to implement the Decree 2010-141 of March 2010, which is prohibiting all cutting, exploitation and exportation of rosewood and ebony. However, it received numerous reports from stakeholders that the decree still was not fully applied. The mission concluded that the decree continued to be circumvented by certain authorities and that no action had been undertaken against the existing illegal stocks of rosewood retained by timber traders. The mission noted reports that wood continued to be illegally exported from these stocks and is then quickly replaced by freshly cut logs and therefore concluded that the elimination of all stocks, including those retained by timber traders, is key to halt the illegal logging and trade in rosewood and ebony.
The mission reported a strong increase in the rate of deforestation in MSNP. While this deforestation is not all directly linked to the illegal logging but also to slash and burn agriculture, the mission considered that the inability to stop the illegal logging, had been a main trigger for the increased deforestation by local communities. The mission was also informed of increased pressure from artisanal mining in the two sites, and this increase was reported to be linked to the same governance issues that are fuelling the illegal logging.
The mission concluded that the property’s Outstanding Universal Value, in particular the values which lead to the inscription of the property under criterion (ix) and (x), had been impacted in the areas where logging took place, but these impacts were so far localized and had not yet jeopardized the overall values of the property. The mission considered that if the logging was not brought under control and more areas were affected, certain values of the property could be lost. The mission also concluded that the increased deforestation as well as the other threats mentioned before had seriously affected the overall integrity of MSNP and that other components of the serial property could also be affected if the logging crisis would spread to these components.
Based on the mission findings, the World Heritage Committee in its decision 35 COM 7A.10 adopted the list of corrective measures as well as a timeframe of two years for its implementation and the Desired State of Conservation for the Removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger.
On 1 February 2012, the State Party submitted a report with information on the current state of conservation of the property and on the progress made in the implementation of the corrective measures. The report notes that in 2011, no more logging or timber stocks, deforestation or poaching incidents had been observed in MJNP. For MSNP, the report states that all logging activities have been stopped by the end of 2011 and that most existing timber stocks in the park have been seized and stored in secured places. However, the report notes that some hidden stocks might still be present in the park. The report further notes that in MSNP during 2011, 18 ha of the park had been deforested compared to 40 ha in 2010 and that the number of confiscated lemur traps had diminished very slightly from 42 to 38. The report notes that efforts have been taken to contain these threats but that the political context and the size of the park make this a challenge.
The State party further stresses its commitment to implement the corrective measures and to reach the Desired state of conservation for removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger within the two years timeframe adopted by the Committee. Following progress is reported in the implementation of the four urgent corrective measures:
a) Finalize the registration of all existing stocks of wood and ensure their immediate seizure
The State Party reports that an inventory has been conducted in 2011 resulting in two types of stocks: (i) secured and inventoried stocks of confiscated timber and (ii) timber stocks in place with the timber traders.
There are also reports that illegal exports have decreased but continue, and while no longer transiting through the major ports, logs are transported by small ships to larger ships anchored offshore.
b) Eliminate all of these stocks within one year after the seizure, with no possibility of renewing the stock through an appropriate process for the liquidation and control of the stock, resulting in the complete elimination of all wood stored within 18 months
The State Party reports that in 2011 priority was given to halting the ongoing logging and that the elimination of stocks was the priority for 2012.
On 15 December 2011, the World Heritage Centre received a letter from the State Party with a proposal of an action plan for the inventory and sale of timber stocks. In its reply, the World Heritage Centre requested for a clear strategy for the sale of all illegal timber stocks, ensuring the full participation of civil society and the international community as well as the involvement of independent observers. The letter also asked for clarifications on the use of the generated revenue, as well as on the methodology which will be used for the inventory and marking of timber stocks. On 6 February 2012, the State Party submitted the requested strategy, based on a “zero stock, zero logging and zero transporting” approach for rosewood and ebony. The attached documents also contained details on different aspects of the proposed inventory and timber sale.
c) Finalize the inscription file for the Dalbergia and Diospyros species endemic to Madagascar in Appendix III of the CITES and submit the inscription of these species in Appendix II of the CITES to the next Conference of States Parties (COP) in order to strengthen their protection status
The State Party report notes that this process is underway but provides no further details.
d) Enforce the implementation of the Decree of March 24, 2010 and the Decrees of November 2000 and April 2006, in particular by publishing in the press an official document signed by the Minister of Environment to clarify precisely the status of these woods and their conservation, for information to the public, all State departments in charge of controlling them, and all potential players in the timber industry, and by commissioning an independent observer to monitor the implementation of the decree;
The State Party report notes that it has organized many information missions, including by the Minister of Environment and Forests to sensitize the local communities.
e) Other conservation issues
The report further provides information on the implementation of the other corrective measures recommended by the 2011 mission to restore the integrity of the property. It highlights the increased patrol efforts to stop logging and secure the illegal timber stocks in the two parks, but notes that so far no funding has been available to include the other four components of the property. It further notes the efforts on community conservation with funding from the German Development Bank (KfW) in MJNP and the Zurich Zoo and Madagascar Protected Area and Biodiversity Foundation in MSNP, but states that community conservation initiatives are not effective in curbing timber logging as these activities are mainly done by people from outside the region. The report further notes that in 2011 no ecological rehabilitation activities of the degraded areas have been conducted but that this is planned for 2012. No information is provided on the recommendation to strengthen the prerogatives of Madagascar National Parks to prosecute offences within the property.