|Town/Region||Masoala National Park|
|Date||26 Apr 2012|
The Masoala National Park, in north-eastern Madagascar, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its extraordinary biodiversity and endemism. Nevertheless, neither the national park, nor the world heritage status has sheltered Masoala from an increasingly serious, illegal, selective logging of precious hardwood. The `rosewood massacre' has already pushed several rosewood (Dalbergia spp.) and ebony (Diospyros spp.) species close to extinction. Scores of other species, dependent on the hardwoods for food or habitat may be under threat. Research is needed to show exactly which areas of the national park have been affected by the logging and how this changed the density of the logged species. This information is crucial for the future inclusion of all the logged species in the Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade with Endangered Species.
Currently, there is a lack of baseline information on the impact of selective logging on the biodiversity in Masoala. It is frequently stated that selective logging has little impact on biodiversity, as it removes only one or few species. However, it is too risky to make such an assumption in an ecosystem as complex as the Malagasy humid forest. Many species may be threatened by co-extinction due to their dependence on the logged species and such interactions need to be well understood for conservation efforts to be efficient.
Equally, anecdotal evidence suggests that the forest disturbance caused by logging may be contributing to the spread of various introduce species of plants and ants, that are already becoming invasive. Such invasive plants are extremely difficult to eradicate and cause severe problems in reforestation efforts in the park buffer zones. Using extensive fieldwork in this remote area of Madagascar, together with cutting-edge remote sensing, we hope to contribute valuable information on the reactions of native as well as introduced biodiversity to the selective logging of precious hardwoods. Such detailed knowledge is vital for the efficient protection of this biodiversity hotspot.
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So far intact part of the Masoala rainforest, extending all the way to the seashore.
A stump of a recently cut rosewood tree from the western side of the Masoala peninsula.
An area of Masoala National Park damaged by a cyclone and repeatedly burnt, viewed from the conservation drone. Photo by Zuzana Burivalova.
Preparing for a flight with the conservation drone in eastern Masoala. Photo by Nandi Fatro.