A moratorium was imposed on the harvesting of rosewood by Minister of Forestry, Lisel Alamilla, back in April in response to complaints over the unsustainable way that the valuable logs were being cut and sold. But after a major bust on Sunday night, it’s clear that the illegal trade is still very much alive. A joint operation by the Forestry Department, police and B.D.F., intercepted a shipment worth over a hundred thousand dollars being moved out of Toledo. Tonight the news is that the confiscated rosewood has gone missing from where it was being stored at the Forestry Department. Forestry officials have been out of reach, but PGTV’s Wil Maheia provided News Five with information he gathered at the site of the bust.
Via Phone: Wil Maheia, Reporter, PGTV
“I get word that there was—that the Forestry had like a sting operation on Sunday night where they intercepted some rosewood that was about to be transported out of the Boom Creek Road, that is right outside of Punta Gorda. The Forestry Department along with police and B.D.F. went to the site and discovered that indeed there was rosewood on the site that was illegally cut. The people that were involved with it, apparently ran away so there were no arrests made but the Forestry Department asked the police to stand by for the rest of the night to secure the rosewood. They stood there and took care of the rosewood until Monday morning when Forestry, along with B.D.F. and police and public works came together on the Boom Creek Road and removed the rosewood.”
“Do you have an idea of how much rosewood it was?”
Via Phone: Wil Maheia
“It was approximately two thousand board feet, a little over two thousand board feet.”
“And I understand it’s valued at about a hundred thousand dollars?”
Via Phone: Wil Maheia
“Thereabout. You know rosewood is sold on the international market for close to twenty-six US dollars per board feet. So you do the math and you can see how much it is worth. The fact of the matter is that there’s got to be some kind of corruption somewhere because rosewood, as you know, is not something that is easily moved. It is very hard to move it so definitely it’s not just the small guy on the ground that is involved with this. In fact, they are the least in all of this operation; big people in big places are definitely behind the movement of these illegally cut rosewood.”
Maheia is asking residents who witness the illegal logging to report it to the Forestry Department.
BZ$100,000 ROSEWOOD BUST IN BOOM CREEK, TOLEDO
The Forest Department, along with police and military personnel, made a substantial rosewood bust last night in the vicinity of Boom Creek Village, Toledo. As a result of the operation, the officials confiscated more than 2,000 board feet of the prized hardwood, valued at US$26 a square foot on the world market.
Indications are that although this find is valued only about BZ$100,000, it points to a much larger illegal operation in the south – despite a moratorium on rosewood harvesting declared by Forestry Minister Lisel Alamilla 9 months ago.
The find confirms that a substantial amount of rosewood is still being extracted from Toledo, and with the prime market being China, questions are now being raised as to whether such a substantial export of rosewood could be sustained without inside help or collusion.
According to Wil Maheia of PGTV, the Forest Department confirmed the bust today, noting that it was the result of a joint operation, but no arrests have been made since no one was found in the area when the bust occurred last night.
Amandala tried to reach Forest Department officials this afternoon for comment, but they were unavailable.
Maheia said that the exporters may have been trying to get the rosewood to either the Commercial Free Zone in Corozal or to the Belize City port, but he also indicated the possibility of the wood being trucked through the Belize-Guatemala border, near Jalacte.