Friday, December 31, 2004

AYE-AYES - Madagascar's poor await benefits of conservation

This report from dicusses the effect of generations of "slash-and-burn" in Madagascar.
The people of Mahatsara village do not understand why they are forbidden from burning down the wild forests of eastern Madagascar.

For centuries, the Mahatsara villagers have followed the traditions of their ancestors, chopping down trees and setting the forests ablaze to clear the land for rice cultivation.

But environmentalists say traditional 'slash-and-burn' farming -- where forests are cleared for planting subsistence crops -- has decimated the Indian Ocean island's rainforests, endangering around 200,000 plant and animal species, most of which exist nowhere else in the world.