- Mar 12, 2019
Madagascar. Some people might have trouble finding it on a map, but it’s home to one of the most important and diverse ecosystems on earth. Located off the southeast coast of Africa, Madagascar is the fourth largest island on earth — about the size of California and Oregon (Califoregon!) combined — and home to more than 22 million people. Confession: Madagascar wasn’t really on our radar either, until we connected with our friends at Eden Reforestation Projects. It’s an honor to support them in the amazing work they’re doing to positively impact Madagascar, its people, and our entire planet.
Madagascar has been designated a “biodiversity hotspot,” in part because 90% of the more than 200,000 species of plants and animals encountered there aren’t found anywhere else in the world – including the beloved lemur. At least 15 species of lemur have gone extinct and it’s now considered to be the most endangered animal on the planet. And while some also consider the lemur to be the cutest, it’s just one among hundreds of critically endangered species that can be found only in Madagascar.
A major contributor to this eco-crisis, beyond poachers and trophy hunters, is the steady deforestation that has occurred on the island during the past 50 years. Approximately 90% of the island’s forests have been decimated due to a complicated combination of illegal logging, charcoal production, outmoded farming practices and other factors. At a local level, these forests, specifically mangrove trees, serve a critical role as habitat for plants and animals and a defense against flooding and erosion.
But what makes this a global story relevant to all of us is that these mangrove trees absorb a tremendous amount of carbon from the atmosphere. In fact, mangrove trees, indigenous to Madagascar, sequester up to three times the typical amount of carbon sequestered by most other trees. It’s an incredibly efficient natural process and one that is extremely important to global climate health. You never have to visit Madagascar in order to benefit from its healthy forests.
We have visited and seen up close the work that Eden Projects is doing. Not only are they running an economically efficient and environmentally beneficial replanting operation (among other initiatives), they’re doing it in partnership with the local people. More than 200 local villagers are employed in an operation that is planting more than 500,000 mangrove trees annually. The short-term results provide indigenous people with a way to generate income for their families and start their own small businesses. The long-term results include expanded fisheries and farms, and a healthier environment for all of us.
Learn more about our carbon neutrality efforts here.