Because there isn’t good governance on the island of Madagascar, the economy is in ruins and the average person is very poor. This means very few can afford education, which has two negative environmental effects: citizens do not learn how to use the land efficiently and sustainably, and even if they do, they have no choice but to make a living farming, which means cutting down more forests. Besides agriculture, some people get money selling timber: logging protected forests is illegal, but the more the government is in turmoil, the less it can enforce environmental law: this also means that more invasive species get into the country, which is disasterous for an island ecosystem. Basically, the government must improve the lives and GDP of its citizens before environmental progress can be effective.
Madagascar, being an island geographically isolated from the rest of Africa, has one of the most unique and fragile ecologies in the world, being home to many unique species found nowhere else on earth which is why it’s a big destination for eco-tourism. Madagascar is also one of the poorest countries in the world. In 2009, in response to violent protests in which over 170 people were killed, President Marc Ravalomanana was forced out of power by a military junta (loyal to his opposition) that much of the rest of the world refuses to recognize as legitimate. During his time in office, Ravalomanana made significant gains in reversing some of Madagascar’s environmental issues, such as declaring certain areas to be national parks and instituting measures to prevent the catastrophic loss of topsoil which previously had been so acute that it could be seen from orbit.
Since the 2009 coup, however, the conservation measures being taken in Madagascar have collapsed, with formerly-protected forests suddenly thrown open to logging, and no enforcement against poachers killing lemurs and other rare species for food and other economic uses. Considering that one of Ravalomanana’s policies was to grow Madagascar’s economy by attracting eco-tourists from abroad, the chaos following the coup has also affected the country economically. Slowly as the political situation has begun to stabilize some enforcement of environmental policies has increased. However, it’s clear that Madagascar still has a long way to go in order to protect its unique and priceless environment.
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