The government and environmental groups in Madagascar on Thursday, September 19, 2019 raised an alarm over the accelerating deforestation on their Indian Ocean Island.
Environment Minister, Alexandre Georget, said it is really a disaster, adding that as the country is reforesting, it does not mean anything if people continue to burn and clear land.
He said mafia groups are at work on the island, which lies off the coast of south-eastern Africa.
“These mafias pay for hundreds of people, who are fleeing drought and infertile soils in the south of the country, to travel to protected areas notably the Menabe forest to clear land and grow maize,’’ Georget said.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the 210,000-hectare Menabe Antimena protected area had lost seven per cent of its total area in 2017.
According to a study by the CIRAD agricultural research organisation over the last 60 years, 44 per cent of the Malagasy natural forests have disappeared. Ndranto Razakamanarina, the Head of the Environmental Alliance Voahary Gasy, said if the deforestation continues without stringent countermeasures, the country’s entire forest will disappear in the next 30 years.