4 August 2010
Last updated at 12:40
Photographer Toby Smith went undercover to infiltrate Malagasy logging gangs - illegal logging of rare rosewood trees has risen sharply since Madagascar's economy entered a deep recession following a violent change of government in 2009.
Rosewood grows at a specific altitude and only in certain soil types. An incredibly rare timber, the trees can live beyond 400 years. This juvenile tree, at only 150 years, provided only 1 length of saleable wood - the rest of the tree was discarded.
Loggers have to drag the felled timber from deep within the forest. With illegal logging having gone unchecked, rosewood is becoming more scarce, and workers often trek for days to find a single tree.
A logging encampment deep in the Masoala Forest National Park. Large encampments exist along the river to transport the wood out of the forest. From this camp, over 100 men stage daily expeditions into the forest in search of rosewood.
Despite the enormous sales value of rosewood timber overseas, each worker is paid only $2.50 per day. The workers bring their own food, but also catch and eat some of Madagascar's rare birds and animals, such as lemurs.
A rosewood depot on the outskirts of the port town of Vohemar. Traders stockpile wood along the coast waiting for shipments to leave before restocking the port.
Thousands of tonnes of rare ebony and rosewood timber is exported from Madagascar. The majority is sent to China, where there is high demand for Imperial-style furniture among the new middle-class, but the wood is also shipped to Europe and the USA.
Containers carrying 150 - 250 rosewood logs are loaded onto a ship in the port town of Vohemar. Although Madagascar's government ordered a block on the export of rare wood, traders often pay only a token fine before being allowed to ship the timber.