Thursday, June 9, 2011

Madagascar's biodiversity needs to be protected

Madagascar belongs to the areas with the richest biodiversity in our planet. Its long-term isolation from the major continents has enabled unique environmental conditions which resulted in many unique animal and plant species.

The latest report from WWF says that more than 600 new species have been discovered in Madagascar in the last 10 years which makes this exotic island a real jewel in biodiversity, a real nature's sanctuary.

However, the sanctity of this magical place has recently come under great jeopardy. The growth of human population is the biggest threat to the island's rich biodiversity. More people means more deforestation because close to 90% of people in Madagascar still use wood for heating, cooking and building.

The deforestation has taken heavy toll in Madagascar in the last few decades. It is estimated that Madagascar lost more than 1 million hectares of forest in the last 20 years. Even island's national parks such as Marojejy, Masoala, Makira and Mananara weren't spared from excessive deforestation after being heavily pillaged for hardwoods.

Locals are using slash-and-burn agriculture because this is the only way for them to survive and without the funds from rich countries this practice won’t stop anytime soon and Madagascar will likely experience huge biodiversity loss.

With adequate funds that would give locals a chance for decent life without the need for heavy slash-and-burn agriculture forests and rainforests would continue to offer home to many of island's endemic species.

The good news is that there are already some local groups who are doing their part in protecting the island's biodiversity so implementing adequate conservation efforts shouldn't be too difficult, with enough funds that is.

Currently, the most famous animal endemic to Madagascar is Berthe's mouse lemur, the world's smallest primate, 10cm long and weighing around only 30g.

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