Conserve & Restore Madagascar’s Forest Communities

Situated off the eastern coast of Africa, Madagascar – the fourth largest island in the world – boasts a rich mosaic of plant and animal life. Around 88 million years ago, the island country split from India, allowing for its flora and fauna to develop in isolation. In fact, the country, which has been largely known as a biodiversity hotspot, boasts 90 percent endemic species, meaning the plants and animals are found nowhere else on Earth.

Rapid habitat loss due to deforestation, however, has become in recent times the single biggest threat to the country and its wildlife. Less than 10 percent of Madagascar’s forests remain. Moreover, recent estimates suggest that around 2 percent of the country’s remaining forests are destroyed and a staggering 80-90 percent of Madagascar’s land area burns each year.

Conservation of pre-existing areas and enrichment planting to restore forests and forest communities is the only way for Madagascar to retain its biodiversity. In November of 2011, I visited some of the community groups working to conserve and restore forests. One such group was Feedback Madagascar, which has been working on the ground with communities for over 20 years. Their newest initiative – TreeMad – seeks to build solutions for the people and the forest. Their goal is to establish 3 million noble hardwood and agroforestry trees over 3,000 hectares; protect 30,000 hectares of existing natural forest alongside the reforestation projects; build 20 schools; and focus on impacting 30,000 lives through their education, nutrition and reforestation programs.

I’ll be celebrating TreeMad’s launch in London this December 2012 and be back in the country the following year to report on the progress. In the meantime, feel free to get involved in the project below.

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