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#418495 - 10/12/11 08:13 AM Illegal shipment of rosewood intercepted  
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In June, 2010 the Supreme Court delivered a breakthrough decision affirming the ancestral rights of thirty-eight Mayan villages in the south. That decision allows the Maya communities to log and bars the Forestry Department from intervening until the wood leaves the communal area. Containers of the wood are being shipped primarily to China; each container fetches about two hundred thousand dollars. The Maya Leaders Alliance is against what they consider the rape of the Toledo forests. News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

Rosewood is a highly expensive wood that is sought after internationally to build high-end furniture. And in the south where natural resources are plenty and people are poor, Rosewood forests are being assaulted for a few dollars. On Saturday, the Forest Department unloaded an illegal shipment of Rosewood Zericote from the Port.

Marcelo Windsor, Deputy Chief Forest Officer

Marcelo Windsor

“In this case, the customs department called us in—that they had some four containers that did not have any forestry certification; meaning that there is no inspection that was carried out and they wanted us to confirm whether the applications; that is the supply control forms were the same as what was in the containers. We proceeded on Friday and we found that contrary to what the forms did have, we actually found that we had approved the exportation of black poison wood and these were actually rosewood and zericote. So the forest department proceeded to confiscate the material. We’re still awaiting for the exporter to come into the office and for us to proceed with the illegalities of this later on.”

The form essentially says that the exporter Guoming Lee of Northern Lumber Company at number one Victoria Avenue in Orange Walk was exporting Black Poison wood to Shenzen City in Guangdong China.

Jose Sanchez

“If Mister Lee doesn’t make an appearance, what happens then? Do you charge him? What happens?”

Marcelo Windsor

“Well firstly, the material is the property of forest department. We’ve actually confiscated that. Mister Lee will have to come into the office and we will decide what charges we will be bringing against him.”

Jose Sanchez

“Does this affect his license or his operation as an exporter of wood?”

Marcelo Windsor

“Definitely I would say yes. In regards to the export of rosewood and zericote, as I said earlier, the forest department is trying to regulate the process. With this now, we have to be more vigilant with regards to those shipments.”

Wilbur Sabido

Chief Forest Officer Wilbur Sabido says the department is trying to regulate the extraction.

Wilbur Sabido, Chief Forest Officer

“What we request as a Forest Department is that there be adherence to the Forest Act which is the act that governs the actual extraction of timber—whether it be from private or public lands—that there be a license requested and issued by the forest department which legitimizes basically the logging operation. And also in terms of the transportation of the material once it is extracted through that legitimate license; that anytime material is being transported through public roads that a waybill accompany that particular material. In the sense that the waybill will essentially include what species is on the vehicle that’s transporting the material and that there be an estimate of the volume and as well who it is being bought from and who it’s being delivered to. In this particular instance, it didn’t fulfill the basic requirement of certification—that the material comes from a legitimate source confirmed by the forest department through a license nor did it have the forest department stamp that it requires.”

Jose Sanchez

“Mister Sabido, but if this exporter did all the proper paperwork, this rosewood would have been exported?”

Wilbur Sabido

“If the gentleman or the exporter had provided all the legitimate licenses or documents, then certainly it would have shown that in this particular instance the rosewood would have been cut or extracted through a process that had been sanctioned through the forest department.”

Jose Sanchez

“What would an exporter have to gain by lying? By just changing the name of the wood; what would they have to gain?”

Wilbur Sabido

“Well first of all in terms of the value that was reported to the supplies control board or directorate of foreign trade, there would need to place an estimated value of that particular material that is in that container. Meaning that int he case of rosewood, probably the value would have been higher and the tax associated with that value would be higher. Now it begs the question: Why conduct illegal activities versus legitimizing your activity and probably receiving a green light for anything that you want to export? Certainly it has to do with the return on investment that legitimate businesses usually get which is one hundred percent.”

Tree cutters from at least seven Mayan Communities extract Rosewood and are paid as little as three dollars and seventy five cents for a wood that is extremely valuable.

Marcelo Windsor

“This is roughly about twelve or twelve by eight which gives you something about one hundred or more feet and if you sell that at local market value, it’s something like three hundred and forty-five, three hundred and fifty dollars. So it does have a significant value here. And at the export market, you can actually get about six to seven times more what you actually pay locally.”

Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

Cutters hail from the villages of: Crique Sarco, Midway, Sunday Wood, San Benito Poite, Corazon, Otoxa and Laguna.

Channel 5

#418552 - 10/12/11 04:05 PM Re: Illegal shipment of rosewood intercepted [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,409
Katie Valk Offline
Katie Valk  Offline
Its a sin and Min of Nat Resources, who hails from OW, has been curiously passive. One might think....

Belize based travel specialist
#421087 - 11/05/11 08:38 AM Re: Illegal shipment of rosewood intercepted [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 56,315
Marty Online happy
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Was impounded Rosewood sold back to the person it was confiscated from?

On a number of occasions we have reported on the illegal logging of Rosewood in the forests of the southern part of the country. Back in June, we had also told you about a truckload of illegally extracted Rosewood that had been intercepted by the Forestry Department in Toledo. According to a caller to Rise and Shine this morning, he had approached the Forestry department to purchase the confiscated Rosewood. He says that he was told by Forestry Department officials that he would be allowed to purchase the logwood as soon as the matter was cleared up in court. But, he says that after the court case, he learnt that the confiscated rosewood was sold back to the very person from whom it was confiscated.

I remember they touched this topic of the Rosewood bush some time ago. So three containers of Rose bush were confiscated from some Korean and Taiwanese and it was at the Forestry Department. I called the Deputy and expressed interest in buying the Rose Bush and he told me ‘Sure, we don’t want to sell it by pieces or by small amounts, but we want to sell the whole amount which is about sixteen thousand feet which amounts up to some forty-eight thousand dollars.’ I told him ‘Sure Sir, I am interested in buying whatever you have. So I kept on trying and checking and he said ‘Sure Sir I will inform you and update you as soon as the court case is finished.’ I called him on Tuesday and I found out that yesterday when I went there, the same guy that they confiscated the Rosewood from, they gave him back the benefit and frankly I don’t know if they just gave it back to him or if they sold the Rosewood to him. It was shocking for me to understand yesterday and all I know is that they returned the wood back to the same person that was taking the wood illegally out of the country, which is totally unfair to us.

We tried fruitlessly to get a statement from the Forestry department as to procedures for the reselling of confiscated logwood. In the PM’s press conference on Wednesday, the Prime Minister was asked to comment on the Illegal Rosewood logging situation in the south and asked whether the government was actively addressing the issue as Hon. Gaspar Vega was out of the country at the time.

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister, Belize
I really don’t know enough about it Pastor and I think you have raised this issue with me already and I had said to the Deputy Prime Minister under whose portfolio this thing falls that the department needs to ensure that the general concerns I have heard will be looked after, but no one has written to me.

Louis Wade Jr. Journalist
I think this one is different, because that one was in the Mountain Pine Ridge; now again there is another case with the Rosewood, this time in the south.

Hon. Dean Barrow
Well I don’t know if there are specific questions that the CEO can answer, because what I am saying to you Pastor is that no one has written to me and usually when these things get out of hand, you can be sure that they write me and tell me that they expect me to do something about it, but I have not had any direct approach made to me.

In every single logwood story that we have covered, Chief Forest Officer Wilber Sabido has been “unavailable” for comment even after Hon. Gaspar Vega had promised in the previous quarterly press conference, that Mr. Sabido would be made available to answer questions on issues arising in the logwood industry.


#421762 - 11/12/11 08:19 AM Re: Illegal shipment of rosewood intercepted [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 56,315
Marty Online happy
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Ya'axche: "PM Put A Moratorium On Rosewood"

The controversy over commercial exploitation of southern Belize's limited stock of Rosewood has been raging for months. And now, the Ya'xche Conservation Trust has called on the Prime Minister to issue a moratorium on all harvesting of rosewood, and to formally re-instate the necessary legislation that will prohibit the export of raw rosewood timber.
Ya'xche is asking him to keep the moratorium in place until the Forest Department and/or Ya'axché has completed a thorough assessment of rosewood stocks in Toledo.

The letter to the PM points to two years of steadily increasing harvest of rosewood from community lands in Toledo - fueled by demand for raw timber from China. Ya'xche says it has evidence that small trees less than eight inches in diameter are now being extracted - which suggests that rosewood stocks have already reached a critical level, and could become locally extinct.

Channel 7

#421771 - 11/12/11 08:30 AM Re: Illegal shipment of rosewood intercepted [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
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Ya-axche and APAMO write the Prime Minister about rosewood extraction

Two NGOs have teamed up to fight illegal logging within days of a report by Friends for Conservation Development which disclosed that Guatemalan loggers have moved significantly into Belizean territory and that the exploitation of the forests continue unabated in the south. According to the FCD report called Chiquibul Forest and Development- A Case for Urgent Action, the loggers have penetrated ten kilometers into Belizean territory and have reached about one kilometer from the highway leading to the Caracol Archeological Reserve. FCD says that at least two point four million dollars have been lost in the illegal activities. On Thursday, both the Ya’axche Conservation Trust and APAMO, the Association of Protected Areas Management Organization wrote the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister on the extraction of rosewood from the Toledo forests. Ya’axche points out that while there has been a steady increase in the harvesting of the precious wood, the established practice for its protection through a custom order has been discontinued. It asserts that permits are regularly granted for large quantities of raw timber for export and that even though the logging season is closed, the trees are still being cut and timber is being stamped by the Forest department officials. Ya’axche also says that it has evidence that small trees are being extracted which suggests that rosewood stocks on community lands may have reached a critical level. It urges the government to issue a moratorium on all harvesting of wood and to formally re-instate the necessary legislation that will prohibit the export of raw rosewood timber. APAMO wrote the deputy prime minister, Gaspar Vega, offering support to Ya’axche in its appeal to GOB to address the illegal logging through clarification of current legislation with respect to permits, licenses and exports. It also called on the government to stop the open and organized plundering and for a moratorium on all harvesting of rosewood until there is re-assessment of stocks.

Channel 5

#422206 - 11/16/11 08:14 AM Re: Illegal shipment of rosewood intercepted [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
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PlusNews speaks with a Rosewood logger from Toledo

Rosewood is a richly hued timber, often brownish in color with dark veining. Rosewood has been quite abundant in the southern part of the country even up to earlier this year but with the recent exploitation of the timber in the Toledo District, it won’t be long before this hardwood is depleted. Southern Belize is uniquely home to three types of Rosewood and plus news has been investigating circumstances surrounding the extraction of this exotic timber. We will be bringing you a series over the next couple weeks but here’s a precursor to the series. We spoke with one logger in the Toledo District who told us how the trees are identified. While he was hesitant to make an on camera appearance, we finally coaxed him to at least tell us how it is done.

Toledo Logger
Well they go into the bushes and look for the Rosewood trees. There are three kinds of Rosewood; there is the mauve one, the pale one and the black one. Actually they have another kind, but it’s not good, so you need to watch the leaf and the scent as well; it has a strong scent. Then you get a chainsaw and cut it down, but you have to be careful and see where the tree leans. So when you cut it, you measure it to the length that you want, then you flitch it, then you bring it out with a horse or a tracker and then you go and sell it.

Plus news visited six villages in the south where extraction is being conducted and in all six we observed logs, chunks, and scraps of Rosewood in the yards of many residents within the area.

How many logs can you get from a tree?

Toledo Logger
Well it all depends on how big the tree is; if the tree is big then you could get at least about three-hundred feet or five junks from it.

How many logs can you extract for the day?

Toledo Logger
Well approximately four-hundred feet if the tree is big.

How much for a feet of logwood when you sell it?

Toledo Logger
Well actually they pay four-hundred dollars for a foot and sometimes they discount it and you have to pay the tractor and the workers. I also have my chainsaw, so I have to pay my chainsaw man too.

With this type of yield, it’s no wonder why some view it as a lucrative business. Rose wood is considered to be strong and durable, taking on an excellent polish after being processed making it quite popular in the making of guitars, furniture, luxury roofing and marimbas just to name a few. Only last week though; Ya’xche Conservation Trust wrote Prime Minister Dean Barrow to issue a moratorium on the harvesting of rosewood and to prohibit the export of the raw timber. According to our source as the months have progressed, it has gotten harder to find rosewood trees.

Toledo Logger
Well I started by myself and I got a permit and began to take out Rosewood and then people began to follow me. Right now, people are starting to go and cut Rosewood.

What do you need to get the permit?

Toledo Logger
Well you need to apply and then after that you pay a month’s fee.

How far have you found out now that you have to go for Rosewood? Do you have to go further and further now?

Toledo Logger
Well about twenty-five to thirty minutes.

Are you finding that you’re going further and further?

Toledo Logger
No it’s just the same place.

There is a lot of Rosewood here?

Toledo Logger
Yeah, well due to the hurricane all of them have fallen down and now it’s very difficult to find them.

So some of them you find fallen already?

Toledo Logger
Yes, most of them.

While this logger expressed that many of the trees have fallen due to the recent hurricane, we found that information to be contradictory as other persons that we spoke to stated that “in the past months of cutting Rosewood, not one of them had been lying on the ground and that the trees had to be cut down”.


#423937 - 12/02/11 09:15 AM Re: Illegal shipment of rosewood intercepted [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 56,315
Marty Online happy
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Police step up efforts to combat Rosewood situation

Here at PlusNews we have done a series of stories on the recent rosewood extractions in the Toledo District. Extractions which have raised major concerns that it won’t be long before this rare and valuable hardwood is depleted. With the Forest Department stamping and approving any rosewood flich they felt came from Maya communal lands, a massive illegal logging operation took hold of the south. Many private land owners began complaining that illegal loggers have been entering their lands and removing their rosewood without permission. In an effort to combat the situation, Punta Gorda Police official and representatives from the Forest Department have pooled their efforts together and have been setting up road blocks and check points on the southern highway. We understand that one of those operations held last weekend was fruitful; with two vehicles containing illegal rosewood seized.

Robert Mariano, Sr. Supt. of Police, Punta Gorda
We have check points road blocks off course, but not only in that area; sometimes we have it in the dump area and other parts of the district. This is because there are a lot of complaints from different villages that Rosewood had been stolen from different villages. So it is time for us to take necessary action to reduce these incidents. This time the Police and the Forestry Department have joined together, along with other departments and they are conducting operations in the Toldeo district, so that we can reduce these activities involving Rosewood in the district. I can tell you however, that last Friday we had an operation, but just between the Police and the Forestry Department and there was a check point at the entrance of Santana Village where they intercepted two vehicles and within those two vehicles there were about eight persons who were arrested and charged for Forestry offenses in relation to an amount of Rosewood that was found inside their vehicle.

Last weekend’s operation led to the detention of Danny Martinez, Anthony Westby, Fredrick Bahadur, Roberto Sutz, Alberto Ical, Ellis Ical and Mario Joaquin all from different villages in the Toledo District. Numerous mayan villages in the south have reported that the rosewood that was once located on their land is now gone. Such is the case with the mayan Village of San Marcus. Residents of that village had agreed at a Public meeting that no rosewood would be removed from community lands. However, months later, the community now finds that its stock of rosewood is down to ZERO; removed by poachers who encroached on their communal lands and stole their rosewood at night.


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