What would you like to search for?

Restoring ecosystems, the right choice to continue to benefit from vital services for humanity

Not restoring degraded ecosystems means stopping the fight against deforestation and landscape degradation in Madagascar.

The consequences would be: no longer benefiting, even in the short term, from ecosystem services vital to humanity and leaving no sustainable environmental legacy for future generations. We call ecosystem services: supply services, medicinal plants, wood for services, ... regulation services such as carbon sequestration, water purification, waste decomposition, support services: seed dispersal, soil formation, and cultural services which are intangible benefits such as cultural diversity, the knowledge system ....  However, let's take a concrete example, the coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated in a masterly way that medicinal plants are of crucial importance because they are a recourse to treat the population, especially in a country like Madagascar where access to drugs from the big global pharmaceutical companies is limited.

With the high level of annual deforestation in Madagascar (100,000 ha/year), various environmental problems persist: loss of biodiversity, soil degradation leading to decreased soil fertility and erosion (which silts rice fields and reddens rivers and river mouths in the west), and water shortages observed in some urban areas.

It is therefore urgent to restore Madagascar's degraded ecosystems. How can this be done? By restoring landscapes and forests. The first challenge is to stop deforestation and then to promote the sustainable management of natural resources. Madagascar has committed to the Africa 100 initiative to restore 4,000,000 ha of landscapes and forests by 2030. In addition, Madagascar has, in recent years, improved institutional governance, for example through the overall management framework for forest landscape restoration actions. This has facilitated the initiatives of the different actors through strategies, guides and capacity building actions. The government's annual objective is even set at 75,000 ha of restored forests/landscapes per year, as part of the "Madagasikara rakotr'ala" vision. Cases of good practice exist in the different regions of the country.

Nevertheless, it must be noted that for a better mobilization of actors and citizens, a mobilization of financing and a better realization on site are necessary. Various facilitation efforts will have to be made, namely the facilitation of land tenure security, the intensification of intersectoral coordination on territorial planning, the improvement of proximity support and technical monitoring, the strengthening of local governance and the attribution to local communities of important roles in decision making.

On the other hand, although communities are blamed for deforestation, they have increasingly realized that without ecosystem services, their production systems that depend on natural spaces and resources cannot be sustainable. The adage "Ny vodiala tsa vo namidy, ny petsapetsa tsa vo ritra" also proves that communities are aware of the important roles of ecosystems.  They can be the pillar of ecosystem restoration actions in Madagascar. Moreover, among the good practices, we can cite: community management of landscapes, and sustainable in addition. Thus, compatible with the concept of forest landscape restoration.

Thus, with the support and backing of the administration, it is time for all environmental governance actors to support and accompany local communities to effectively play their roles as leaders and managers of the success of actions to restore degraded ecosystems. This is to ensure that ecosystem services are provided sustainably for humanity.
By Dr. Appolinaire Razafimahatratra, Expert from WWF