PublicationsRare trees are disappearing as ‘wood pirates’ log Bolivian national parks
Rare trees are disappearing as ‘wood pirates’ log Bolivian national parks
29 Jan 2020
This story was originally published on Mongabay.com on 29 January 2020.
Mara (Swietenia macrophylla), also known as big-leaf mahogany, is a threatened tree species found in western South America. Growing up to 50 meters (165 feet) tall, mara trees can live for more than a century. Its wood is sought-after for the production of high-end furniture and can sell for high prices at the country’s black markets.
Lured by profit, gangs of armed loggers routine infiltrate Madidi and Amboro national parks and harvest mara trees from deep within their forests. They transport the timber down waterways to cities in Bolivia and across the border to Peru.
After mara and other trees are cut down, coca crops – from which cocaine is made – are often planted illegally in the new clearings.
Spread too thin and threatened with violence, park authorities say they’re powerless to stop the onslaught.