Tackling deforestation for Earth Hour and beyond

Posted on 28 March 2012
The train station Soarano in Antananarivo, Madagascar, switched off its lights for Earth Hour
© WWF Madagascar / Patrick Wai
Each year, Earth Hour takes place on the last Saturday of March and involves approximately 5,200 cities in 131 countries. These cities switch off non-essential appliances as a symbolic gesture to participate in a common cause - to fight for a healthier environment, to reduce energy consumption in the world, with quick and easy gestures.

In Madagascar, the city of Antananarivo participates in this joint action by turning off lights in landmark and historic buildings for an hour. The symbolic extinguishing of lights occurs in the City Hall, the Queens Palace of Manjakamiadana, the city stadium Mahamasina, and the train station Soarano. Restaurants also participate in this worldwide event by organizing a candlelit dinner between 8.30 and 9.30pm.

This year, the Fatana Mitsitsy, a wood-saving cookstove, is honored in celebration of Earth Hour 2012. It is an innovation that blends the realities of the Malagasy people who use charcoal and firewood to supply up to 80% of domestic energy needs for cooking. The supplies used for cooking are responsible for 90% of wood derived from forests. With the use of Fatana Mitsitsy by the majority of Malagasy people who cannot afford to use gas on a daily basis, it is possible to achieve a significant reduction in charcoal consumption and consequently, a reduction in deforestation.

In celebration of Earth Hour 2012, WWF and its partners have organized a showcase for Fatana Mitsitsy, from March 30-31st, 2012 in Ambojiatovo Garden in Antananarivo and the Ankilisoafiliry place in Toliara. In addition to the exhibit, the event will also demonstrate the significant savings of charcoal with the use of an appropriately set up Fatana Mitsitsy, which is up to 65% compared to conventional stoves This showcase will be an opportunity to show the economic value of the cookstove whose effectiveness in terms of energy saving is technically and scientifically proven.

A Green School Year

Earth Hour is a symbolic action. The real challenge is to maintain this action throughout time. High school students of Antananarivo and Toliara are participating in this challenge with the support of WWF: the schools will participate in a major reforestation project that will operate until 2013 - and 70 schools have already signed up! School leaders and teachers are trained by WWF to assist students in the creation and maintenance of small gardens as of March 2012. Throughout the year, they will be responsible of taking care of the seeds and plants, forming a large aspect of the reforestation project in 2013. The reforestation project communicates a strong involvement and contribution by students to their respective communities, and delivers the message that replanting is not only a symbolic action but a commitment in time to be tackled in the early years. The goal of this project is to have ten trees planted per child.

Reducing the consumption of charcoal

Holy Randriamampianina is a mother and has been using the Fatana Mitsitsy for cooking for several years. Her daily consumption of charcoal has decreased eversince.

WWF: You have been using the Fatana Mitsitsy for how many years now? What are your impressions of the economic homes?

• I have been using the Fatana mitsitsy for a very long time. I use it to cook family meals. The Fatana Mitsitsy really lightens the budget and the budget allocated for daily expenses for the kitchen has decreased. I use a quarter of charcoal that is used in a conventional home, so instead of buying two bags of charcoal monthly, I buy one: it is a significant reduction and clearly visible. Savings are always appreciated!

• What suggestions would you have to offer, as a user of Fatana Mitsitsy?

• The quality of Fatana Mitsits varies from piece to piece. I have purchased Fatanas that did not last for more than three months – they would break easily and ultimately didn’t offer economical savings on charcoal. My suggestion would be to standardize the qualities of the cookstoves for mothers like myself so we can choose the right Fatana easily.

• Do you also use fuels other than charcoal for cooking?

• Yes, I also use clean coal, as they call it. This fuel is made from cow dung, but is not readily available in town. In fact, the use of fuels such as briquet and rice husk is also very economical and very practical. These fuels make homes more efficient and economic: less coal used for the same cooking time and the same cooking quality.

• The use of Fatana mitsitsy: it is more of an economic concern than an environmental concern?

• I do not think these two are necessarily different. Regardless of its expenses, it is important to live in a rational manner, which is having consideration for the future of our land and our families. For many of us, it is necessary to expend energy such as fuel and electricity. However, other energy expenditures can be reduced. Using these cookstoves, I am able to teach my children to adopt a vision of a down-to-earth, and minimal energy saving.


Fondation Telma
Commune Urbaine d’Antananarivo
Tany Meva
Centre National de Recherche Industrielle et Technologiqu
Ministère de l’Energie
Ministère de l'Environnement et des Fôrets
Circonscription scolaire d’Antananarivo
Etablissements scolaires d’Antananarivo

The train station Soarano in Antananarivo, Madagascar, switched off its lights for Earth Hour
© WWF Madagascar / Patrick Wai Enlarge
PK-32 Ranobe protected area, Southwest Madagascar. PK32-Ranobe is a hotspot of biodiversity - WWF is currently applying for the extension of the PA to include more key habitats within the decree of definitive protection as every year, large areas of Ranobe forests are felled by charcoal sellers.
© Xavier Vincke / WWF Madagascar Enlarge
Charcoal transport near Toliara, Southwest Madagascar
© WWF MWIOPO / Martina Lippuner Enlarge
Reforestation day! Madagascar.
© Bette Harms Enlarge
Wood-saving energy stove, Fatana Mitsitsy, Antsirabe
© WWF Madagascar / Rina Andrianarivony Enlarge
Holy Randriamampianina, a happy fatana mitsitsy user
© WWF Madagascar / Mialisoa Randriamampianina Enlarge
Band playing at Café de la Gare during Earth Hour 2010, Antananarivo, Madagascar
© WWF Madagascar / Martina Lippuner Enlarge