"It legalises the sale of illegally cut and collected wood onto the market (...) and constitutes a legal incentive for further corruption in the forestry sector. " said a communique published locally by WWF, Conservation International (CI) and the World Conservation Society (WCS).
The communique follows a Reuters report quoting Prime minister Monja Roindefo denying that the transitional government was legalising the plundering of forests, but refusing to rule out issuing future licences.
Following the change of government in March this year, all but essential humanitarian aid has been withdrawn by the international community, leaving Madagascar's national park and forestry services with little or no funding. Loggers have moved into the protected areas, stripping the forests of valuable hardwoods such as rosewood, ebony and mahogany. They work for influential business people who are in possession of illegal but "official" documentation permitting them to export these hardwoods.
The Lake Qarun Protected Area LCG/SSG was established by Nature Conservation Egypt (NCE; BirdLife Affiliate) in 2008, with a grant from the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation.
The lake occupies the deepest part of the Fayoum Depression, more than 40 metres below sea level. Once a large body of fresh water supporting Nilotic flora and fauna, the lake now receives almost all its water as drainage from irrigated land. As a result, and because the only ‘outflow’ is via evaporation, levels of salinity have been steadily increasing. The lake is now slightly more salty than seawater.
The project, subtitled ‘Linking African children to the global conservation community - for the benefit of nature and people’, combines biodiversity conservation with education and sustainable development initiatives, and uses bird conservation to help bridge the digital divide in Africa.
This comes against a backdrop of recent reports of problems facing vultures in Africa and the ongoing ones in Asia. Across the Indian subcontinent, populations of three formerly very common species of vulture have declined by more than 97% as a result of consuming cattle carcasses contaminated with the veterinary drug diclofenac.
“An advert for the supply of mining equipment, and a recent announcement of the expansion of the railway and building of a new port at Tanga to handle soda ash all point to deliberate efforts to keep alive the intention of mining Lake Natron's soda ash", added Lota Melamari.
On a couple of small lakes some 300 km north of Antananarivo are fewer than 20 Madagascar Pochard. Although once part of an extensive wetland system throughout the central plateau these are now the last remaining unmarred high elevation volcanic lakes of their kind.