How to Stop a Giant: Illegal Logging Continues

Rosewood and Ebony are the woods of choice for loggers that come to Madagascar. Along with Indonesia and a number of West African Countries, the island of Madagascar is among those whose forest are being pillaged for its resources. Apparentl

y, after a coup d’etat in 2009 illegal loggers have destroyed up to 20,000 hectares of the forest. Due to an increase in this activity and the billions of dollars being made from it, Richard Black Environmental correspondent for BBC likened it to the drug trade in his article on Monday, March 20th. According to a new report by the BBC, organized crime groups make between $10 and $15 billion dollars a year from illegal logging.

The World Wildlife Fund’s Regional Representative for Madagascar said he saw the situation as out of control citing an increase in the number of illegal loggers from 13 to 32. On behalf of the organization he condemns these activities which in no way benefit the local people, or the government.

Singer and songwriter Razia Said agrees with the urgency of the situation and the fact that the people who live there gain little to nothing from the pillage of their forest’s resources but she and a number of other musicians decided to take action in the face of those numbers. Said was one of the organizers of a concert that was held in Madagascar October 1st 2011 to bring attention to the situation of illegal logging in the Masoala Rainforest. This forest is home to the country’s renowned lemurs and it is here that over 1000 trees are chopped down every day. With the attention they hoped to bring to this issue, Razia said that sanctions were needed for the people of Madagascar to have more control over their resources.

Interestingly, I wasn’t able to find an update about the concert of the specific situation in Madagascar but Richard Black’s article in the BBC yesterday suggested that the situation if not worse, was continuing in various places. In light of the recent Kony 2012 Fiasco and the argument about certain people telling stories of other people, this story caught my attention. Despite the giant they faced with corrupt officials, organized gangs, people like Razia and her fellow concert organizers and supporters declared their own story and their needs through song. They are a small body but made their voices heard. But were their voices loud enough to make a difference? And if not, what more can small grassroots levels groups fighting for the rights of their land and people do to make their stories known and stop the pillage?

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