Tue. Apr 20th, 2021

Deforestation is so rampant throughout Madagascar, an island far larger than California, that it’s easy to forget the impact of tree clearance in any one specific area of the country — the lemurs that lose their habitats, the orchids that no longer bloom, the people whose land becomes barren. But recent activity in the Ankeniheny-Zahamena Corridor (CAZ), a large protected area in central eastern Madagascar, has raised concerns that one of the country’s most important tropical rainforests is being lost. Over the past five months, CAZ has seen a number of spikes in deforestation activity, according to satellite data from the University of Maryland (UMD) visualized on Global Forest Watch. This isn’t a new problem — CAZ has faced high levels of tree clearance for several years — but preliminary data indicate that it’s getting worse. Local sources say the forests are being lost primarily to swidden agriculture (slash-and-burn), a practice that can increase during times of economic difficulty. With less income during the pandemic, local people have sought to increase their rice yields by using more forestland. The trend spells major trouble for the 15 lemur species that live in CAZ as well as endangered amphibians endemic to CAZ, such as the black-eared mantella frog (Mantella milotympanum), the Scaphiophryne boribory frog, and the Paroedura masobe gecko. The masobe gecko (Paroedura masobe) is endangered. Image by Jaine via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0). The black-eared mantella frog (Mantella milotympanum) is critically endangered. Its main threat is habitat loss. Image by…This article was originally published on Mongabay
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