Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, is one of the world’s top five threatened biodiversity hotspots. The Makirovana-Tsihomanaomby forest complex in northeastern Madagascar consists of 20 square miles of low-elevation, fragmented, humid forest. The Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) has identified it as a national priority area for plant conservation, and the government is in the process of formally recognizing it as a protected area. Numerous locally endemic and threatened plant species are found there. Animal diversity is robust as well, with 60 species of reptiles and amphibians, 75 bird species, and six species of lemur.
The forest is threatened by bushmeat hunting, rosewood logging, and especially by slash-and-burn farming. Shifting cultivation by the slash-and-burn method is traditional and widespread in eastern Madagascar. It is the primary cause of deforestation and upland forest degradation. Over centuries, it has contributed heavily to the loss of approximately 90 percent of Madagascar’s original forest cover.
Since 2008, the MBG has worked with Antanandava, a community of 1,092 south of the forest, to reduce these threats and conserve the area. The community has agreed to stop all new shifting cultivation in the 988-acre Makirovana-Tsihomanaomby forest complex. In support of this commitment, Seacology is funding construction of a new primary school. It will replace the village’s small, deteriorating bamboo and wood school.