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Madagascan ‘charbonniers’ devastate forests

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 20 August 2010

Two years of drought and late arrival of the rainy season in south western Madagascar have forced hundreds of farmers into charcoal producing which is devastating forests, according to WWF field staff at Tollara.

© WWF MWIOPO / Martina Lippuner

“Charcoal production in the South of Madagascar is particularly unsustainable as people cut the natural spiny forest, a unique ecosystem which exists nowhere else” says Bernardin Rasolonandrasana, Spiny Forest Eco-regional Leader for WWF in Toliara. “We are horrified to see the amount of charcoal currently coming out of those forests.”

Farmers were driven from their fields after rain did not arrive in quantity or the usual December to March periods over the last two years.  Ironically the cyclone of the beginning of June, which brought rain in abundance and has now turned the area uncharacteristically green, was no help to farmers whose crops had already withered away.

The lack of regulations and control makes the charcoal business an obvious, if highly destructive alternative.  Now threatened is an area of threatened natural spiny forest which received temporary protection status only in December 2008. PK-32 Ranobe, an hour north of regional capital Toliara is co-managed by WWF and an inter-communal association. Continue reading Madagascan ‘charbonniers’ devastate forests