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Madagascar to Curb Illegal Logging

Madagascar Rainforest
Ambohimahamasina, one of the few pristine areas remaining in Madagascar
Photo: Rainforest Foundation

The Ministry of Environment of Madagascar published a ministerial decree to stop all ongoing logging permits in areas that threaten the sustainability of forests. The ban, approved a few weeks ago, covers as much as 7.0 million hectares.

Along with other agreed measures, the new course of action is setting the stage for a dramatic improvement in the governance of the forestry sector at a time that the World Bank is launching the Third Environmental Project in this African country.

The Third Environmental support project, approved by the World Bank last year, aims to improve forest management, protect biodiversity and put in place sustainable financing mechanisms for the environment to reduce poverty and contribute to broad-based economic growth, sustainable natural resources management and improve governance. It is financed through an IDA Grant of US$40 million equivalent and US$9.0 million grant from Global Environment Facility (GEF).  The Government of Madagascar was the first government in Africa to develop a National Environmental Plan.

In fact, last year, Madagascar President Marc Ravelomanana made a commitment to triple the protected surface area to six million hectares, or 10 percent of the national forests in the lead up to the World Parks Congress in Durban.  He considers it his personal obligation to make sure these goals are met and says his credibility is on the line.

Madagascar Rainforest
Ambohimahamasina, Madagascar
Photo: Rainforest Foundation

Madagascar is one of 17 recognized mega diversity countries that collectively harbor up to three quarters of the world's biological diversity. Although it occupies only about 1.9% of the land area of the African region, it is home to about 25% of all African plants and has more orchids than the entire African mainland.

It is estimated that Madagascar lost about 12 million ha of forest between 1960 and 2000, effectively reducing forest cover by 50 percent in just 40 years. Following the launch of the National Environment Action Plan in the late 1980s, deforestation rates have since declined from over 400,000 ha/year in 1975-1985 to around 100,000–200,000 ha/year during the 1990s. Satellite imagery shows that the total area of natural forest in Madagascar declined from 9.4 million ha in 1993 to 8.5 million ha in 2000, reflecting a national average rate of deforestation of about 0.86 percent per year.

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