The trees are bleeding: stop the loggers NOW!

Illegally logged rosewood in Madagascar Rosewood and ebony are being logged illegally in Africa (© CC BY-SA 3.0)

Rosewood logs spattered with red sap – as if they were bleeding – are laid out by the roadside. “If a ban is not enforced immediately, there will be nothing left,” warns conservationist Hazel Chapman. The loggers are not even stopping for Gashaka Gumti National Park. Tell Nigeria’s environment minister to ban the export of rosewood.

Call to action

To: Amina J. Mohammed, Minister of Environment of Nigeria

Loggers are plundering Nigeria’s Taraba State for rosewood for the Chinese market. Please stop the export immediately.

Read letter

Loggers are cutting down all the rosewood they can find in Nigeria’s Taraba State. The timber is destined for China, where it will be made into faux-antique luxury furniture. For the past year, loggers have been penetrating deeper and deeper into the bush. Logs from trees felled on steep hillsides are simply rolled downhill, flattening everything in their path. According to Chapman, criminal loggers are ignoring the protected status of African rosewood (Pterocarpus Erinaceus) and are turning swaths of Taraba State into a nearly lifeless desert.

Rosewood is a key part of the savannah woodlands bordering the Sahel zone, an ecosystem that provides habitat to chimpanzees, white-nose meerkats, and numerous bird and butterfly species. The local people use rosewood sustainably as a source of fodder, medicinal plants and textile dyes.

The loggers, on the other hand, are felling everything they can in a frenzy not unlike a gold rush. China’s imports of rosewood and ebony from West Africa increased by a staggering 700 percent between 2010 and 2014. According to Forest Trends, $216 million worth of West African rosewood made its way to China in the first half of 2016 alone.

Nigeria’s Taraba State, which is fighting a losing battle against the loggers, is not an isolated case: loggers are leaving a trail of destruction throughout Nigeria. In Plateau State, a Chinese company was allegedly granted a permit to log a protected area.

Please call on Nigeria’s environment minister Amina J. Mohammed to ban the export of rosewood.

Back­ground

Ecologist Hazel Chapman directs the Nigerian Montane Forest Project, which operates a field station on the edge of the Ngel Nyaki Forest Reserve. Chapman portrays the project in this video. In this article, she describes the unique nature of Nigeria’s montane forests and the threats they face.

The forests of Guinea, Ghana, the Gambia, Senegal and other West African countries are suffering under the rush to supply the Chinese market with rosewood and ebony. Whenever one country cracks down on timber exports, criminal networks simply truck the logs to neighboring countries and export them from there.

Further information:

The Gashaka Primate Project: Creating a Wilderness

Naija247news: Chinese Demand for Rosewood Spurs illicit Trade in Nigeria, Other West Africa’s Savannas

Leadership: Plateau Community Cries Out, As Chinese Firm Log Pandam Game Reserve

Leadership: Deforestation: Reps To Investigate Incessant Felling Of Trees

INTERPOL: INTERPOL operations target illegal timber trade in Africa and the Americas

ITHACA: Sahel Region Current Vegetation Growth Deviations for 2011 Season

Letter

To: Amina J. Mohammed, Minister of Environment of Nigeria

Dear Madame Minister,

Criminal loggers are cutting down rosewood in Taraba State at an alarming pace. They are also destroying precious forests in other states.

Rosewood plays a key role in the savannah ecosystem. As a protected species, logging is banned. This appears to be of little concern to the loggers, who go about their business with impunity.

Local conservationists warn that even Gashaka Gumti National Park is threatened. The forests will be lost if the loggers are not stopped immediately.

Please prohibit the export of rosewood from Nigeria and ensure that existing bans are strictly enforced. We also call on you to advocate export bans by Nigeria’s neighbors.

Yours faithfully,

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