Monday, June 16, 2008

Madagascar - Innovative financing to preserve rich biodiversity

Madagascar's isolation has resulted in really unique mixture of plants and animals with many of them nowhere else to be found. Biodiversity is so rich on this beautiful island that ecologists sometimes call Madagascar "eighth continent". For instance there are more than 9000 plants that are native only to Madagascar. However this rich biodiversity is under threat because of human activities such as deforestation.

Therefore it is more than good news that the largest debt-for-nature swap agreement in Madagascar’s history was signed between the Government of Madagascar and the Government of France, allocating approximately $20 million to preserve Madagascar’s rich biodiversity. This should help conservation efforts to protect many endemic Madagascar species; for instance nearly 98 percent of Madagascar’s land mammals, 92 percent of its reptiles, and 80 percent of its plants are found nowhere else on earth.

Madagascar is home of many endemic species

Funding is really a necessity in Madagascar, especially since about 70 percent of Madagascar’s population lives below the poverty line, which makes this country one of the poorest in the world, with very large debt. This is of course the reason why Madagascar has more than limited domestic funds and needs help on international level to preserve its rich and specific biodiversity. These debt-for-nature swaps should be really more often used to free resources of poor countries and reallocate funds to finance conservation activities.

With this agreement and these significant funds at disposal, Madagascar should be able to triple the size of the country’s protected areas. With this, many unique ecosystems of these really unique island should get a decent chance to survive.

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