At this moment, technicalities are the biggest obstacles of successful timber tracking in Madagascar according to Harisoa Ravaomanalina, assistant professor at the University of Antananarivo and a member of Scientific Authority Board of CITES. Rosewood and Palisander are commercial names for Dalbergia wood, additionally to other local names for the popular precious wood. So, while Madagascan legislation accounts for rosewood as precious wood belonging to the Dalbergia genus, it does not so for Palisander which then slips through the cracks of timber identification. But this is not the only important challenge of timber tracking in Madagascar. “It is really complicated to get duplicates for our data collection, because the Dalbergia species are threatened to become extinct and samples are so rare”, says Ravaomanalina. Moreover, in Madagascar it is more than difficult to find fertile herbarium specimen – with flower, fruit and leaves – in the field in the first place, which makes it hard to give names to species and thus compare them.
Although Madagascar has developed evaluation methods already in place, the GTTN network is a great and necessary collaboration for scientific exchange on an international level, states Ravaomanalina.
Harisoa has a degree in Botany and a PhD in plant Ecology from the University of Antananarivo, Madagascar. Being an expert on Dalbergia and Diospyros species identification based on wood anatomy, she contributes to timber tracking research in the Global Timber Tracking Network.
For more facts about timber tracking possibilities in Madagascar watch the full interview.