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Henri Rakotoarisoa, umpteenth victim of the protection of forests ...

and others are likely to suffer the same fate if urgent measures are not taken.

To actively participate in the actions of forest protection is certainly "voluntary" in the process of integration to the basic communities called VOI (Vondron'Olona Ifotony), according to article 2 of the decree 2000-027 of January 13, 2000 instituting the basic communities. However, Principle 10 of Agenda 21 of Rio, 1992 clearly indicates the need for the participation of all citizens on environmental issues. The law 2015-003 of June 22, 2015 on the Malagasy environment charter in its Article 7 also indicates that any individual has the right to participate in the procedures prior to the taking of decisions likely to have adverse effects on the environment.

Henri Rakotoarisoa thus acted in a voluntary way but also can be in a legal way according to at least the principles of these 2 last references. His actions in favor of the protection of the forests and the environment are heroic and even deserve the supreme recognition that exists in favor of the commitment of citizens to the service of common goods, including the forests and the environment. The daily life of the leaders of the grassroots communities like Henri Rakotoarisoa is both to allow all the communities to use the natural resources in a sustainable way but also and above all to fight against the actions of illicit exploitation of natural resources and deforestation. The protection of the forests by the grassroots communities is not a deprivation of the rights of use of the communities living on the periphery of the forests but a sustainable management through development and management plans in which the zones of exercise of the rights of use of the natural resources are authorized and this in accordance with the quotas of exploitation defined according to the potentialities of the forests. The commercial exploitation of timber without legal authorization from the forestry administration and without respecting the development and management plan therefore constitutes abusive exploitation destroying the capital in timber and/or natural resources of the forests, the object of the exploitation.

The leaders of the grassroots communities spare no effort to ensure that the forests and ecosystem services can be used sustainably by current and future generations despite the fact that they receive neither financial compensation nor physical protection for their actions. Is it still acceptable not to give sufficient protection rights to those who act for the common good such as the environment? Henri Rakotoarisoa is not the first victim of actions to protect natural resources in Madagascar. The latest cases of attacks causing injuries reported against members of grassroots communities took place on November 30, 2021 in the village of Mahalogny/Rural Commune of Ankatafa/Ambanja District.

Henri Rakotoarisoa also acted as an informant of illegal acts perpetrated for the abusive exploitation of natural resources. Not only should his identity not be revealed, but he should also be protected from possible reprisals, attacks, threats or intimidation. The process led by the forestry administration to improve Law 96-025 of September 30, 1996 on the Local Management of Renewable Natural Resources can only be encouraged to introduce articles related to the physical protection of community leaders. Isn't protecting the defenders of the environment an obligation to claim to protect the forests and the environment in Madagascar?
By Dr. Appolinaire Razafimahatratra,
specialist in community management of renewable natural resources