1.         Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Madagascar) (N 1257)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2007

Criteria  (ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1257/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2000-2005)
Total amount approved: USD 55,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1257/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

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.

Previous monitoring missions


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;

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1257/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2009

On 23 March 2009, the World Heritage Centre received information from the Post-Conflict and Disaster management Branch of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Geneva, on increasing illegal logging in the Marojejy and Masoala National Parks, situated in the north-east of the country and part of the serial property. According to the information received, logging activities had dramatically increased since February 2009 and were targeting valuable timber species in both protected areas, in particular rosewood (Dalbergia sp.) and ebony (Diospyros sp.).

On 26 March 2009, the World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Madagascar to UNESCO, expressing concern about these reports and requesting further information on the scale and impact of the illegal logging on the property and the measures taken by the State party to address this threat. On 10 April 2009, the Director of the World Heritage Centre received by email a number of reports from the Director General of Madagascar National Parks (MNP), including a report prepared by MNP to the Prime Minister (dated 9 April 2009) and reports by the Directors of the two National Parks concerned. The reports not only confirmed the logging issues but also noted a number of other important threats to the integrity of both protected areas:

- In Masoala National Park, hundreds of people were reported to have invaded the park to cut rosewood and ebony and numerous new immigrants were noted in the surrounding villages to engage in the illegal logging activities. In addition, there was an increased incidence of illegal quartz exploitation in the park, and collectors of sea cucumbers and other marine resources had invaded the marine sector of the park (not included in the World Heritage property).

- In Marojejy National Park, 12 villages were reportedly involved in logging activities and armed militias were reported to be circulating in the area, intimidating any attempts to stop the timber trafficking. The park had been closed for visitors in view of the insecurity.

The report also shows maps of the areas in both parks that have been affected by the illegal logging.

The report notes that the logging crisis started following the issuing of an inter-ministerial decree on 28 January 2009, authorizing a number of timber traders to export rosewood and ebony, supposedly originating from fallen trees from a recent cyclone. This decree was used by timber traders to spread the rumor that the logging ban on rosewood and ebony had been lifted. It is noted that the problem was further exacerbated by the political turmoil in the country, which weakened the government services including the forest service, whose regional office was looted and which made it difficult for MNP to mobilize security forces to address the issue. Armed militias were reportedly protecting the loggers and threatening park staff as well as local communities supportive of the protection of the parks. Early measures taken by the management of both parks (awareness activities, joint patrols with the police and meetings with the regional and judicial authorities) had failed to produce tangible results, as the regional authorities were unable to deal with the situation.

Faced with this situation, the report notes that the Board of MNP in a meeting on 30 March 2009 had developed an action plan involving the judiciary, port authorities, customs, internal security services and the police to address these threats,. The action plan is reported to include the following urgent measures: stop all timber collection in the cities of Antalaha, Sambava and Vohémar; stop all timber exports from the relevant ports as long as the origin of the timber can not be certified to be coming from the stocks that were established after the cyclone and organize mixed patrols with the forest administration, the armed forces and the regional authorities to step-up surveillance. The plan also includes measures to mobilize the goodwill of the local communities for the conservation of the Parks. The Minister for Environment also issued a Declaration, confirming the ban on logging and in particular inside the protected areas and announcing sanctions against all people involved in timber trafficking.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are extremely concerned by in the increase in illegal logging which could affect the values and integrity of the property. While welcoming the action plan initiated by the Madagascar National Parks, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN continue to receive reports that logging has not yet stopped. According to these reports, the port of Vohemar, from where the export of rosewood was stopped on 18 April 2009 based on the order of the Minister of Environment, was reopened on 20 April 2009 and the illegal loggers who had been arrested by the police were released without punishment. Local radios are said to continue broadcasting messages, encouraging logging. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN were also informed that another 80 illegal loggers were arrested by the police in both protected areas on 18 April 2009. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN so far have not received any reports that the other four components of the property have been affected by these threats.

IUCN note the shared responsibility of the international community to prevent the sale and export of illegally harvested timber, which could also be supported by organisations such as TRAFFIC to combat illegal trade and to work with consumers to raise awareness on the impact on the property from this ongoing demand.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN


Decision Adopted: 33 COM 7B.147

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-09/33.COM/7B.Add,

2. Expresses its utmost concern about the increase in illegal logging as well as other illegal resource exploitation in the Marojejy and Masoala National Parks, which are part of the serial property "Rainforests of the Atsinanana", which might affect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

3. Takes note of the action plan that was developed by the Madagascar National Parks Board to address these threats and urges the State Party to ensure its urgent implementation;

4. Calls upon all State Parties to the Convention to ensure that illegal timber originating from Madagascar is prevented from entering their national markets;

5. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2009, a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property, in particular on the impacts of illegal logging on Masoala and Marojejy National Parks as well as a report on the implementation of the action plan and other measures taken to address the threats from illegal logging and other threats, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010.