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Rainforests of the Atsinanana

Madagascar
Factors affecting the property in 2010*
  • Fire (widlfires)
  • Illegal activities
  • Indigenous hunting, gathering and collecting
  • Land conversion
  • Mining
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

There have been no previous State of Conservation reports. The IUCN evaluation of 2007 mentions the following threats to the property: 

a) Encroachment;

b) Fire;

c) Hunting and poaching;

d) Artisanal mining;

e) Illegal logging;

UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2010

Total amount provided to the property: Preparation of the nomination file and development of certain management tools supported through the Madagascar World Heritage programme, with funding from the United Nations Foundation, Conservation International and the Nordic World Heritage Foundation.

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2010
Requests approved: 3 (from 2000-2010)
Total amount approved : 155,000 USD
2010 Forêts Humides de l’Atsinanana (Approved)   100,000 USD
2005 Elaboration of a a serial nomination for the humid ... (Approved)   25,000 USD
2000 Technical Assistance for Building Capacity for World ... (Approved)   30,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2010**

None

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2010

On 30 November 2009, a detailed report on the state of conservation of the Rainforests of Atsinanana World Heritage property was submitted by the State Party. This urgent report was requested by the World Heritage Committee as a result of reports on an important increase of illegal logging in two components of the property, Masoala and Marojejy National parks. The report provides an overview of ongoing management operations across the serial property and of the implementation of the State Party’s Action Plan to halt illegal logging of precious woods in Masoala and Marojejy National Parks, which was reported to the Committee at its 33rd session.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also received a copy of the “Investigation into the illegal exploitation, transport and export of precious timber in the Sava region in Madagascar” of August 2009, by Global Witness and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). This report was commissioned by the Ministry of Forest and Madagascar National Parks. A World Heritage Centre mission visited Madagascar in April 2010 in the framework of the Centre’s project activities and was also able to meet various stakeholders.

The State Party report indicates that illegal logging of precious woods in Masoala was still ongoing at the time of the preparation of their report, but states that logging in Marojejy had ceased. Logging activities are primarily targeting the three rosewood species (Dalbergia) occurring in the country, as well as to a lesser extent ebony (Diospyros). Rosewood or Dalbergia spp. are only present in Madagascar, India, Brazil and Central Africa and the species found in Madagascar are endemic to the island.

Most Rosewood is found in the north-east of the country, and in particular in the Masoala and Marojejy National Park, and in Mananara National Park, a biosphere reserve (not included in the property). The other four central/ southern National Parks (Andohahela, Andringitra, Ranomafana, and Zahamena) comprising the serial property seem relatively unaffected by the illegal logging crisis. The State Party specifically reports on the status of illegal logging in Masoala and Marojejy National Parks.

Masoala: The State Party notes that a large portion of the northern, western and southern areas of Masoala National Park was affected by illegal logging. At the time of the report, illegal loggers were present within the park and illegal logging of precious wood was persisting. The State Party further indicates that Masoala National Park obtained some limited funding from the Zurich Zoo and Conservation International to address this issue and secure the park.

Marojejy: The State Party reports that illegal logging in Marojejy occurred over a much smaller area in the north-west of the park. It had ceased in September 2009 and that there was little risk that this threat will resume. The park had re-opened to tourism and park staff were currently undertaking field surveys in the north-west portion of the park to determine the level of damage caused by illegal logging. Overall, the State Party considers that the measures implemented to counter this threat in Marojejy were successful and limited the operations of illegal loggers.

The State Party report further provides an overview of the implementation of the Action Plan developed by the Malagasy National Parks Committee to halt illegal logging of precious woods. Some of the key activities reported include the establishment of a Task Force in October 2009 to halt illegal logging, direct action to limit the collection of illegally logged precious woods, repeated closures of all key Malagasy ports to timber exports, and commissioning the Global Witness and the Environment Investigation Agency (EIA) to investigate and report on illegal logging activities. The State Party further outlines the future actions that it will undertake in order to halt illegal logging of precious woods, including maintaining the anti-logging Task Force and granting it additional powers to effectively control and manage illegal loggers currently within Masoala National Park, and continuing surveillance of both parks and undertaking field surveys to establish the state of both parks (once the situation has returned to normal).

As demonstrated in the Global Witness / EIA report, the logging crisis seems to be driven by a number of loopholes in the legislative framework. In fact, all ebony and rosewood exploitation and export have been forbidden in Madagascar since 2006 by Ministerial Decree. However, in January 2009, an interministerial decree was issued, giving an exceptional authorisation for the export of rosewood and ebony to 13 operators till 30 April 2010, supposedly for timber collected after the 2008 cyclone. Another similar special authorisation was delivered on 21 September 2009 for the export of 25 containers. In spite of these special authorisations, all logging of rosewood and ebony remained illegal.

However, the Global Witness / EIA report clearly demonstrates that much larger volumes were exported under the cover of these decrees. It further notes that most of the timber did not originate from old stocks, but was freshly extracted from the three National Parks mentioned above. The report estimates the illegal extraction at 200 to 300 m3 per day, equivalent to 100 to 200 trees a day, harvested illegally in Masoala and Mananara National Parks and representing a commercial value of USD 800,000. Following the political crisis in January 2009, nearly 7,000 tonnes of rosewood valued at 16 million euros left the port of Vohémar. The investigation team observed that rosewood was transported openly on the roads controlled by the police and forestry administration. Based on the evidence it was able to collect, the report concludes there is complicity of many government services in the timber trafficking, including the forest administration, regional authorities and even members of the taskforce which was set up to halt the illegal logging activities. It further notes that most export licences provided by the different government services are actually in violation of the legislation and points out that certain illegal stocks were “legalised” against the payment of a fine. The report further clarifies that almost all rosewood transports are destined to China.

On 12 March 2010, the World Heritage Centre wrote a letter to the State Party, expressing its concern over repeated reports on these continuing illegal activities in the two parks. The letter reminded the State Party of the provisions of the List of World Heritage in Danger, as set out in paragraphs 177-189 of the Operational Guidelines, and noted the possibility of the property meeting the criteria for inclusion on the List of World Heritage in Danger if illegal logging was not stopped.

On 24 March 2010 a new ministerial decree N° 2010-141 was issued, restoring the ban on the exploitation and exportation of rosewood and ebony. Nevertheless, according to reports received by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, illegal logging activities are continuing and permits are still issued to export timber, in violation of the decree, and in complicity with high authorities in Government.

With regard to the impact on the property, the State Party report concludes that the illegal logging of precious woods has lead to a reduction in overall rosewood stands in the two components of the property without resulting in an extinction risk within. However, it notes that the high level of disturbance resulting from illegal logging had knock-on effects on wildlife, including diurnal lemurs. The State Party specifically reports on increased poaching of diurnal lemurs by illegal loggers within both parks, and notes the need for a detailed field survey to establish the current population levels of each diurnal lemur species within the parks. Despite this, the State Party considers that most of the Outstanding Universal Value of Masoala and Marojejy National Parks remains intact, while acknowledging that significant negative impacts on Masoala’s values are likely.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that following the submission of the State Party report in November 2009, an aerial survey was undertaken in early March 2010 in collaboration with Madagascar National Park’s conservation partners, as well as the World Bank and the American and Norwegian embassies. This survey confirmed the presence of several illegal logging camps within both Masoala and Marojejy National Parks. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN have also received reports from NGOs indicating that hundreds of loggers are currently operating within Masoala, while Marojejy, though less affected, is still experiencing illegal logging. Information from experts working in the field indicates that the equivalent of 1,500 ship containers of precious woods have been illegally harvested (as of March 2010) and several reports have noted that loggers now need to look sometimes several days to find another rosewood tree to cut, indicating the rapid disappearance of these endemic tree species. Other sources indicate that because of the scarcity of rosewood, there is a gradual shift from illegal logging to other illegal resource extraction, such as the artisanal mining of gemstones. Increased agricultural encroachment has also been reported. Hundreds of people linked to the illegal precious wood trade have moved into the two parks and their periphery. While the State Party reports that 11,305 people are present within the parks’ periphery, NGOs report that the population probably exceeds 50,000 people.

In March 2010, the World Conservation Society (WCS) issued a report based on a lemurs survey realized in Masoala National Park in February and March. The report indicates that populations of lemurs have been disturbed on sites affected by illegal logging: for some species, such as Varecia rubra (on the IUCN red list as in danger) and Eulemur albifrons (on the IUCN red list as vulnerable), the population density was reduced by 30% to 75% and a major reduction in female fertility was observed, causing a low rate of population’s renewal and impacting the distribution of species on a long term basis.

In its state of conservation report, the State Party noted the need for international assistance to support field surveys in Masoala and Marojejy National Parks during the course of 2010 in order to determine the extent of the damage caused by illegal logging. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that following the political crisis in January 2009, key international donors, including the World Bank and USAID, suspended most of their aid to Madagascar. Many of these frozen programmes included capacity building for forestry and park officials, implementing chain-of-custody and tracking systems for timber, and provision of funding to the Ministry of Environment and Forests; this aid suspension resulted in the Ministry operating with only 10% of its previous budget. As a result, operations of mixed patrols composed of police, gendarme and park agents were halted due to funding shortages, leaving the parks exposed to illegal logging. The State Party on 15 March 2010 submitted an emergency request to the World Heritage Fund for funding for mapping the impacts of deforestation and organising patrolling missions. The World Heritage Centre requested some additional details on the budget and the implementation of the proposal and the request will be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN were also informed of a proposal to inscribe rosewood from Madagascar on CITES Annex III. They note that inscription on Annex III still allows the country to determine export quota. Options to list the relevant species in Annex II or I of CITES may therefore be more appropriate. The World Heritage Centre was also informed that a study has been commissioned by the ITTO (International Tropical Timber Organization) to determine the exact status of the species and provide advice on Listing.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are extremely concerned by ongoing illegal logging within Masoala and Marojejy National Parks, which is directly threatening the property’s Outstanding Universal Value. They note that the secondary effects of illegal logging are documented to be far more serious than the direct effects of stand reduction and habitat disturbance. Cumulatively, these effects are likely to amplify the direct impacts of illegal logging and cause serious long-term, and in some cases irreversible, ecological damage. Therefore the World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider the current situation is directly threatening the values for which the site is inscribed under criteria (x), as a result of the direct and indirect impacts on threatened endemic species, but also under criteria (ix), as a result of the impact on the ecosystem processes. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also note from reports that already a commercial lemur bushmeat trade based in Masoala and Marojejy National Parks is developing. These reports are particularly worrying as previously there was virtually no commercial bushmeat trade in Madagascar.

It is further noted that in spite of the recent decree banning all export and exploitation of rosewood and ebony, it has not slowed down illegal logging. In addition reports indicate export permits continue to be granted, contrary to the decree. Therefore, the World Heritage Centre consider that this is a clear case of ascertained threat to the Outstanding Universal value of the property and consider the property meet the criteria for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN further recommend an urgent monitoring mission to the property to develop the corrective measures and a timeframe for their implementation and to raise awareness with the authorities on their obligations in the framework of the Convention. They stress the urgent need for the Government to enforce the logging ban and put in place a credible enforcement policy. They further recommend donors to restore conservation support funding and note that attention also needs to be given to developing alternative livelihoods for the park’s periphery communities.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2010
34 COM 15.2
Examination of International Assistance requests

The World Heritage Committee, 

1.  Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/15,

2. Considering the threat to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property that motivated its inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger, and the need for urgent action to restore the integrity of the property,

3. Decides to approve the following request:

Madagascar:  Rainforests of the Atsinanana, for an amount of US$ 100,000 in  the category "Conservation and Management Support", in accordance with the following modalities:

a) Prior payment of arrears to the World Heritage Fund;

b) Allocation of a first payment of US$ 35,000 to cover mapping activities, inventories of threats, impact assessment and inventories of stocks of cut and remaining precious woods, and as foreseen in the request for assistance in Document WHC-10/34.COM/15. This assessment should be finalized prior to the organization of the World Heritage Centre / IUCN on-site monitoring mission (see Decision 34 COM 7B.2);

c) The support should be channeled through reliable and recognized organizations selected by the World Heritage Centre in communication with relevant authorities;

d) Establishment of an emergency plan to define corrective measures, prepared jointly with the State Party and stakeholders during the World Heritage Centre/IUCN mission and approved by the State Party;

e) Allocation of a second payment of US$ 65,000 as a contribution to the implementation of the emergency plan, subject to co-financing from the government and other donors.

4. Requests the Secretariat to submit a report on the implementation of this Decision at the 35th session of the Committee in 2011, under the agenda item relating to International Assistance.

9 EXT.COM 4.2
Examination of International Assistance requests

The World Heritage Committee,  

  1. Having examined document WHC-10/9 EXT.COM/4,
  2. Decides to postpone the examination of the following request until a revised version is submitted: 
       Madagascar : Humid Forests of Atsinanana
34 COM 7B.2
Rainforests of Atsinanana (Madagascar) (N 1257)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/7B.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 33 COM 7B.147, adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),

3. Expresses its utmost concern about the increasing illegal logging and hunting of endangered lemurs in Masoala and Marojejy National Parks, which is endangering the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

4. Notes that in spite of the approval of decree N° 2010-141 of 24 March 2010 banning the exploitation and export of rosewood and ebony, reports indicate that the State Party of Madagascar is continuing to provide export permits for illegally logged timber, that no credible measures are in place to enforce the ban on logging or the export of illegally logged timber, and that States Parties to the World Heritage Convention are also known destination countries for illegally logged timber;  

5. Urges the State Party to immediately take the necessary measures to enforce the above mentioned decree and halt all illegal logging in the property, halt all export of rosewood and ebony and ensure that all people participating in illegal resource extraction activities are removed from the property;

6. Calls upon all States Parties to the Convention to act urgently to assist protection of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property by restoring conservation funding and support;

7. Further calls upon all States Parties to the Convention to assist in developing alternative subsistence means for the communities living around the parks;

8. Encourages the State Party to convene a High Level Meeting of the States Parties concerned in order to implement Decision 33 COM 7B.147 taken by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009), which invites the States Parties to ensure that illegal timber originating from Madagascar is both banned and prevented from entering their national markets;

9. Requests the State Party, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN to draw the relevant issues to the attention of the Secretariat of the Convention on the Illegal Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), with a view to considering action in relation to threats through this international mechanism;

10. Considers that the property is facing imminent danger to its Outstanding Universal Value;

11. Decides to inscribe the Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Madagascar) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

12. Also requests the State Party to invite, as soon as possible, a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission to the property to assess the state of conservation of Masoala and Marojejy National Parks and develop in cooperation with the State Party the corrective measures to address the threats to the Outstanding Universal Value as well as a timeframe for their implementation, and a Desired State of Conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger;

13. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2011, a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property, describing the implementation of the action plan and other measures taken to address illegal logging, as well as any data on the direct and indirect impacts of illegal logging on Masoala and Marojejy National Parks, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session in 2011.

34 COM 8C.1
Establishment of the World Heritage List in Danger (Inscribed Properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Following the examination of the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List (WHC-10/34.COM/7B, WHC-10/34.COM/7B.Add, WHC-10/34.COM/7B.Add.2 and WHC-10/34.COM/7B.Add.3) and of proposals for inscription of properties on the World Heritage List (WHC-10/34.COM/8B, WHC-10/34.COM/8B.Add),

2. Decides to inscribe the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:

  • Georgia, Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery (Decision 34 COM 7B.88)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 34 COM 7B.2)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 34 COM 7B.53)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 34 COM 7B.29)
Draft Decision: 34 COM 7B.2

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/7B.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 33 COM 7B.147, adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),

3. Expresses its utmost concern about the increasing illegal logging and hunting of endangered lemurs in Masoala and Marojejy National Parks, which is endangering the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

4. Notes that in spite of the approval of ministerial decree N° 2010-141 of 24 March 2010 banning the exploitation and export of rosewood and ebony, reports indicate that the State Party of Madagascar is continuing to provide export permits for illegally logged timber, that no credible measures are in place to enforce the ban on logging or the export of illegally logged timber, and that States Parties to the World Heritage Convention are also known destination countries for illegally logged timber;

5. Urges the State party to immediately take the necessary measures to enforce the above mentioned decree and halt all illegal logging in the property, halt all export of rosewood and ebony and ensure that all people participating in illegal resource extraction activities are removed from the property;

6. Calls upon all States Parties to the Convention to act urgently to assist protection of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property by restoring conservation funding and support, and by ensuring that illegal timber originating from Madagascar is both banned and prevented from entering their national markets, especially those countries that are known destinations for illegally logged timber;

7. Requests the State Party, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN to draw the relevant issues to the attention of the Secretariat of the Convention on the Illegal Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), with a view to considering action in relation to threats through this international mechanism;

8. Considers that the property is faced by an imminent danger to its Outstanding Universal Value;

9. Decides to inscribe the Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Madagascar) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

10. Also requests the State Party to invite, as soon as possible, a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission to the property to assess the state of conservation of Masoala and Marojejy National Parks and develop in cooperation with the State Party the corrective measures to address the threats to the Outstanding Universal Value as well as a timeframe for their implementation, and a Desired State of Conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger;

11. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2011, a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property, describing the implementation of the action plan and other measures taken to address illegal logging, as well as any data on the direct and indirect impacts of illegal logging on Masoala and Marojejy National Parks, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session in 2011. 

Report year: 2010
Madagascar
Date of Inscription: 2007
Category: Natural
Criteria: (ix)(x)
Danger List (dates): 2010-present
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 34COM (2010)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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