In February 2009 Madagascar?s coup d?etat saw a new interim government seize power. Powerful international traders took the opportunity to intensify illegal deforestation in the remote North-East of the country by extracting rare Rosewood and Ebony for the world market.
Spanning 3 expeditions, Toby Smith?s ambitious photography project first identified logging areas before documenting the activity deep within UNESCO protected rainforests. Finally, posing as a timber buyer he worked undercover to penetrate the timber trader?s industry in collaboration with the Environmental Investigation Agency. Subsequent evidence was presented to US Federal Agents who, utilising new wildlife laws, have seized goods and files to prosecute Gibson Guitars for their involvement. The ongoing investigation continues along trade routes to China and Germany.
The project has now been published across 17 pages in GEO magazine (Germany) after being embargoed for 6 months as evidence in international courts. Now, as part of the London International Documentary Festival, Smith will exhibit a selection of his striking images for the first time hoping to draw public attention to illicit logging industry and the fragile environments at stake.