Encouraging signs

Richard Tsirinasy Bendala, the President of Lovasoa, a grassroots association (COBA) in Ivohibé, remembers when the forest was still surrounding the village. “It was a long time ago,” he says.
 
“Our grand-parents were burning the forest to clear land but they knew it was important to replant trees and they told us to do it,” he adds. “Maybe we did not always follow such a recommendation but WWF and the forest experts reminded us how essential it is.”

Quickly convinced
According to its president, it did not take long to convince the COBA of the benefits of reforestation.

“Forests were protecting our water supplies. Once they were cleared, we experienced severe water shortages, which resulted in health issues in the community and reduced irrigation in the fields. We definitely had to do something about it.”

Richard Tsirinasy Bendala also believes that something is wrong with the climate. “I had never seen so little rain in January and February,” he says. “And there were cyclones in April which is not normal either.”

According to him, local people start to realize that there are some problems and they do care about it.

“There are very encouraging signs, which makes me feel optimistic,” he adds. “For example, people are lighting many less bushfires than before, and they begin to occupy and rehabilitate degraded land rather than claiming new one at the expense of the forest.”

 / ©: Olivier van Bogaert
Richard Tsirinasy Bendala
© Olivier van Bogaert

Our grand-parents were burning the forest to clear land but they knew that it was important to replant trees and they told us to do it

Richard Tsirinasy Bendala

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