Under the plan, the government will expand its terrestrial coverage from 1.5 million hectares to 5 million hectares and its costal and marine-area coverage from 200,000 hectares to 1 million hectares. Madagascar President Marc Ravalomanana made the announcement before thousands of delegates at the 5th World Parks Congress in Durban, South Africa.
Deforestation has taken its toll on the island, reducing the country's forest from 20 million hectares to 9 million hectares over the last 20 years. "We can no longer afford to sit back and watch our forests go up in flames, " President Ravalomanana said. "This is not just Madagascar's biodiversity, it is the world's biodiversity. We have the firm political will to stop this degradation."
The world's fourth largest island, Madagascar has only been inhabited for about 2,000 years. As a result, its plant and animal life developed in pristine isolation and it now teems with species found nowhere else. It is home to some 10,000 endemic plant species, 316 endemic reptile species and 109 endemic bird species. It is also home to 71 primates found only there, making it the world's top priority for primate conservation.
Conservation International (CI), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and WWF are among the international and national organizations supporting the government in this effort.
"This is one of the most important announcements in the history of biodiversity conservation," said CI President Russell Mittermeier. "Madagascar is one of the world's highest priority hotspots and a leading megadiversity country, with levels of endemism unlike anyplace on Earth. President Ravalomanana's
Contact: Brad Phillips