WCS Applauds the Leadership of Representative Blumenauer

NEW YORK (NOVEMBER 4, 2009) - The Wildlife Conservation Society applauds Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore) for introducing H. Res. 839 – a resolution condemning the illegal extraction of natural resources in Madagascar and also its impact to livelihoods and rural communities. The ongoing plunder of resources threaten not only years of effort made by the U.S. government and its partners but also the substantial progress being made in stopping environmental degradation in a country that is home to 150,000 species of unique flora and fauna.

John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, said, “The situation in Madagascar is nothing short of tragic -- not only for the people and wildlife of Madagascar, but for the entire planet. I applaud Congressman Blumenauer for his continued leadership in the United States Congress on the issue of illegal logging. This resolution will serve as a clear message to the current Malagasy government that the illegal harvesting of Madagascar’s natural resources is unacceptable.”

The resolution specifically condemns the political upheaval and the forced resignation of former president Marc Ravalomanana through undemocratic means as well as the open and organized extraction of precious wood and natural resources that is pushing some species to the brink of extinction. The resolution also cited ongoing intimidation of natural community management structures, intensified smuggling of endemic and protected species, illegal mining and slash and burn agriculture, and the degradation of the resource base upon which local communities depend.

Congressman Blumenauer said, “Illegal logging not only does irreparable harm to the environment, but it destroys livelihoods.”

Madagascar’s natural resources provide direct and essential benefits for its people – three quarters of who live in rural areas on less than two dollars a day. In addition, those resources, kept intact, generate 390 million dollars of economic development in eco-tourism.

Blumenauer also noted that the effects caused by these illegal timber operations are not limited to Madagascar. “In Oregon and across the United States, at a time when we are working to recover the economy, illegal timber imports undermine legitimate logging operations.“ Blumenauer said. “While Madagascar’s de facto government continues to use its endangered resources to boost its regime, Congress today joined the administration in calling for an immediate end to these practices.”

The resolution calls for: importing countries to intensify monitoring and inspection processes to ensure they do not contribute to demand for illegally sourced woods from Madagascar; action by competent authorities and the people of Madagascar to stop the illegal activities and bring those responsible to justice; and calls on the people of Madagascar to immediately undertake a democratic consensual process to restore constitutional governance, culminating in free, fair, and peaceful elections.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit: www.wcs.org

Stephen Sautner: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)
Scott Smith: (1-718-220-3698; ssmith@wcs.org)