This subject, which has been the sad reputation of the country for many years, finally seems to be taken seriously by the Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

By our correspondents in Madagascar: Tsirisoa Rakotondravoavy & Liva Rakotondrasata Photographs: MEDD

For Baomiavotse Vahinala Raharinirina: The issue of deforestation is a central issue and I take this opportunity to announce that a major reform is underway with the project “Madagasikara Rakotr’ala” or “Reverdir Madagascar”. This is the first time in almost 60 years that we have a results-oriented environmental policy and a reforestation policy based on professionalization. We are working to ensure the involvement of all and also for a useful and local reforestation. For many years we have invested in reforestation, but these often remained annual events without responsible follow-up. The approach we are taking now is totally different. It is to promote local and useful reforestation, that is, let’s plant what we need, let’s involve the grassroots communities and let’s get a real citizen commitment. Thus, when a group of people carries out a reforestation action, they also take care of the maintenance, put up the firewalls and do not wait for the State to do everything for them once the reforestation day is over. The other change is that an information campaign is being conducted to explain to the population that it is not only about reforestation, but that we must also restore what has been destroyed. Madagascar has committed itself over ten years to restore 4 million hectares of forest landscape that have been completely destroyed. This is a huge challenge, but we are strongly committed and determined.

“99% of protected areas did not have water supplies to deal with fires”

We also have the obligation to conserve biodiversity which is the 4th pillar of this “Madagasikara Rakotr’ala”. It is a question of leading a fight without mercy against the bush fires. All our efforts are useless if bush fires remain a recurrent phenomenon. On this point, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development has put in place a new approach, methodology, but also the mobilization of new tools. We are now working on fire weather forecasts that we share with officials at the regional, district, commune and Fokontany levels, for mobilization and especially anticipation. We also call upon the managers of protected areas and the private sector to accompany public entities in the management of fires, notably through the financing of means, something we have not done for many years. You will not believe me if I tell you that 99% of the protected areas did not have water reserves to face fires. So, all this is being reviewed, with improved working methods, better coordination of all actors. We have a lot of conservation actors in Madagascar with financial flows of up to 1 billion dollars in the last 20 years. And yet, the results are far from being up to our expectations. I don’t hesitate to say it. The environment sector has failed for 20 years. Now we’re turning it around.