Madagascar: Rainforest Essay

3103 words - 13 pages

Madagascar Rainforest
Madagascar, located approximately 400 kilometers east of Africa is the world's fourth largest island. Because of its isolation it is occupied by some of the most unusual and rare species of plants and animals on earth. Madagascar was at one time formerly an independent kingdom; became a French colony in 1896 and regained independence in 1960. During 1992-93, free presidential and National Assembly elections were held ending 17 years of single-party rule(Science 1990). The main historical problem with international trade has been the correlated destruction of the environment. This is especially true when it comes to the issue of deforestation. In Madagascar, ...view middle of the document...

Estimates of the extent of the remaining eastern rain forests have ranged from 2.5 to 6.9 million ha (100ha=1km). In addition, approximately 165,000 ha of forest are estimated to be cleared per year. This rare jewel of earth is in grave danger. Rapid deforestation, caused predominantly by the large population boom of the developing country, economic downturn, and mass migration to cities, is destroying much of the natural habitat of Madagascar. We need to bring much needed attention to the ongoing habitat loss in Madagascar. In the aftermath of a coup, illegal loggers ravaged Madagascar’s reserve in the northern part of the country. Without backing from the central government or support from the international agencies that withdrew aid following the coup, little to nothing has been done to stop the carnage. The impact of illegal logging of precious woods on many forest sites, including the world heritage site of Atsinanana, is devastating for biodiversity, for livelihoods and for the world, as we continue to lose the unique biodiversity of the island of Madagascar. About 52,000 tons of precious wood from 100,000 trees estimated to been cut in 2009 alone,(Science 1990) possibly covering 20,000 hectares within the parks. An additional 500,000 trees probably felled to help raft the heavy trees downstream, according to WWF illegal logging (precious woods) from Madagascar enter national markets every year. We need to both protect the unique environment for Madagascar and the critical services they provide to the majority of the population who struggle to seek out a subsistence living from the natural resources. (Global Witness June 2009) We must understand some things. At one time Madagascar was once home to giant land birds, the largest of which weighed over 1,100 pounds (500 kg) and stood ten feet (3m) tall. (Science 1990) The Elephant birds (Aepyornis) driven to extinction in the past couple of hundred years. You can still see remnants of their existence in their giant eggs, which have been reassembled and offered for sale in parts of the country. It was estimated that the 20-pound egg of Aepyornis maximus could have fed 150 people. Just think about it, if this animal had been saved. Now consider this 70% - 80% of the species and nine of the plant families in Madagascar are not founded anywhere else in the world (PFM, 2009). Scientists believe there are two main reasons for the rainforests of Madagascar obtaining an amazing biodiversity, First, Madagascar has been isolated for more than 60 million years, and second it has seven different ecoregions, ranging from tropical rainforests to deserts. These two reasons scientists have found combined to give organisms enough time and variety of habitats to adapt to give the rainforests of Madagascar its variety of plants and animals. These are some facts that we need to understand: 250,000 species are found here, of which 70% - 80% are found nowhere else in the world. Yet of the 50...

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