Consumer demand for rosewood furniture and guitars is the primary driver behind the destruction of Madagascar’s forests, according to a new report by environmental groups.

The report, by Global Witness and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), says the majority of illegal wood from Madagascar ends up in China, with small quantities being shipped to Europe and the US for use in guitars – normally in the sides, backs and fretboards of the instruments.

It says the Madagascan government’s ban on the export of all precious woods had not been effective, with further shipments leaving ports and logging continuing within national parks.

However, EIA and Global Witness say that new legal measures and enforcement activities appear to indicate a genuine commitment from the country’s forest ministry to curb the problem.

But to plug any gaps in implementation, the groups want to see all timber-consuming countries follow the example of the US (through Lacey Act amendments criminalising imports of illegal timber) and crack down on the import of illegal timber.

They have also called on China to take immediate steps to halt wood imports from Madagascar.