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Charcoal production in the forest
© WWF MWIOPO / Xavier Vincke
Both the number of species as well as rates of endemism make Madagascar one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots: It is home to animals such as lemurs, chameleons, tortoises and the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox), as well as to about 12,000 plant species, 70-80% of them endemic – including 7 species of Madagascar’s iconic baobab trees.

While the island’s eastern part is covered by lush tropical rain forests, spiny vegetation is typical for the drier south and west.

But Madagascar’s forests are not only marvelled on by ecologists and visitors from around the world – they also represent an important source of income for local communities.

Many malagasy people are extremely dependent on forest products. Charcoal is generally used for cooking, since cooking gas is too expensive for the majority of the population. Houses, boats and fences are built from timber.

It is thus crucial to manage these forests sustainably – both for the conservation of species that exist nowhere else on the planet, and for the economic viability of the population.
 / ©: WWF MWIOPO / Marie Fischborn
Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta)
© WWF MWIOPO / Marie Fischborn
 / ©: WWF MWIOPO / Xavier Vincke
Baobabs in western Madagascar
© WWF MWIOPO / Xavier Vincke

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