has signed a series of environment agreements to protect unique forests
and support local communities as part of a commitment by the government
to ramp up environmental protection on the Indian Ocean island.
its largest ever debt-for-nature swap, Madagascar signed a deal with
France this month, in which US$20 million of debt owed to the former
colonial power was put into a conservation fund, the Foundation for
Protected Areas and Biodiversity (FPAB).
"Thanks to this, the
money will go into the protection of the Malagasy environment instead
of to France," Nani Ratsifandrihamanana, the environment director of
the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) told IRIN.
played a crucial role in brokering the deal that will help protect
Madagascar's forests, home to many of the world's most fascinating
creatures. Nearly all the island's land mammals, over 90 percent of its
reptiles and 80 percent of its plants are found nowhere else.
a separate deal, Madagascar committed itself to selling nine million
tons of carbon offsets to help protect its forests. The money will be
used to protect the vast Makira forest, one of several under threat as
a result of the poverty of the overwhelmingly rural population.
say deforestation in the tropics contributes to about 20 percent of all
carbon dioxide emissions and that reducing deforestation is one of the
quickest ways to fight climate change. Deforestation in Africa is twice
as high as anywhere else in the world, where some 13 million hectares
of forest are cleared every year.
International (CI), a non-profit environmental group, said the main
drivers of deforestation in Madagascar were slash-and-burn agriculture,
charcoal production for use in towns and cities, mining, and the
conversion of forest to plant maize.
Reducing deforestation is
a hard battle to win because more than 75 percent of the island's 18
million people are rural and depend on land and natural resources.
new carbon credit deal, managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society
(WCS), based at the Bronx Zoo in the US, represents an innovative way
to tackle the problem.
Offset schemes allow polluters to pay
for emission cuts in other countries, while providing a source of
precious foreign currency to developing countries.
Malagasy government has had some success in forest protection in recent
years and has been able to increase the number and size of protected
areas. According to environmentalists, the rate of deforestation has
been dramatically cut in some of these areas.