CITES must take urgent action to save Madagascar’s unique species of rosewood and ebony


  • Mark W. Roberts Eco Policy Advisors, Stow, MA
  • Derek Schuurman London
  • Porter P. Lowry II Missouri Botanical Garden. St. Louis, MO, USA Institut de Systématique, Évolution, et Biodiversité (ISYEB), Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle/Sorbonne Universités/Centre national de la Recherche scientifique/École Pratique des Hautes Études; 75005 Paris, France
  • Anitry Ny Aina Ratsifandrihamanana World Wide Fund for Nature Madagascar, BP 738, Antananarivo 101
  • Simon Rafanomezantsoa World Wide Fund for Nature Madagascar, BP 738, Antananarivo 101
  • Patrick O. Waeber Forest Policy and International Forest Management, Bern University of Applied Sciences, Länggasse 85, 3052 Zollikofen Forest Management and Development, Department of Environmental Systems Science, Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems, ETH Zürich, Universitätstrasse 16, 8092 Zurich
  • Lucienne Wilmé World Resources Institute Africa Madagascar Program BP 3884, Antananarivo 101 Missouri Botanical Garden Madagascar Research and Conservation program BP 3391 Antananarivo 101


CITES, ebony, rosewood, Madagascar, illegal logging, criminal syndicates, timber trade, Dalbergia, Diospyros


This contribution is an open letter to all CITES Management and Scientific Authorities, which is signed by all of the co-authors. As CITES convenes its 19th Conference of the Parties in November 2022, some of the largest seizures in history of illegally harvested CITES-listed species are poised to be handed back to the criminals who smuggled them out of Madagascar. Nearly 40,000 rosewood logs were illegally exported from the country in 2014, in clear violation of CITES and national embargos, as explicitly declared in Notices issued by the CITES Secretariat. The logs were seized by Singapore, Kenya, and Sri Lanka, but as a result of both passive and active interference from various Malagasy officials and aggressive use of these countries’ national court and political systems, orders have now been issued for the logs to be returned to the smugglers. Release of this wood would have catastrophic consequences for the future sustainable management of Madagascar’s remaining rosewood and ebony resources. We propose five essential steps that should be taken at the upcoming CITES CoP 19 in Panama to prevent this from happening.



Cette contribution est une lettre ouverte adressée à toutes les instances scientifiques et de gestion de la CITES, qui est signée par tous les co-auteurs. Alors que la CITES convoque sa 19e Conférence des Parties, en novembre 2022, plusieurs saisies importantes, les plus volumineuses de l’histoire dans un cas, d’espèces inscrites à la CITES et exploitées illégalement sont sur le point d'être rendues aux criminels qui les ont fait sortir clandestinement de Madagascar. Près de 40 000 rondins de bois de rose ont été sortis en contrebande de Madagascar en 2014, en violation flagrante de la CITES et des embargos nationaux, comme le déclarent explicitement les avis émis par le Secrétariat de la CITES. Ces rondins de bois de rose ont été saisis par les autorités douanières de Singapour, du Kenya et du Sri Lanka, mais suite à une ingérence active et passive de divers fonctionnaires du gouvernement de Madagascar et un usage agressif des systèmes judiciaires et politiques nationaux des pays dans lesquels les saisies ont eu lieu, l’ordre a maintenant été donné de restituer ces rondins aux contrebandiers. Nous énumérons ici cinq mesures essentielles qui doivent être prises lors de la prochaine CdP 19 à Panama pour empêcher que cela ne se produise.


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The CITES Secretariat must be provided with both the mandate and resources to assist countries that have seized material of listed species so they can prosecute criminals engaged in illegal trafficking






Invited Contributions