The problem: slash-and-burn agriculture

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Slash-and-burn deforestation in western Madagascar
© WWF MWIOPO / Xavier Vincke
Every year, thousands of hectares of forest are cut and burnt in protected areas of Madagascar for slash-and-burn agriculture, even though it is illegal throughout the country. This practice often destroys the forest irreversibly for the price of a few years of productive agriculture. Soils often are thin and poor, and are quickly exploited and washed away.

In combination with erosion, slash-and-burn agriculture has a dramatic effect on coastal ecosystems, as sedimentation results in the death of corals, because sunlight is being blocked from penetrating the water.

Slash-and-burn agriculture is also an important threat to the economic security of many local populations. This practice often leaves barren land where no crops or productive forests can grow anymore. Furthermore, the impact of slash-and-burn agriculture on coral reefs also impacts economic security of fishermen.

Slash-and-burn agriculture is practiced in remote areas, where the presence of authorities is scarce. It is very difficult to control by protected area managers, as it is done in remote places hidden by the vegetation, off the beaten paths and therefore difficult to detect from the ground.
 / ©: WWF MWIOPO / Marie Fischborn
Agricultural clearing in a protected area in the Onilahy river region
© WWF MWIOPO / Marie Fischborn
 / ©: WWF MWIOPO / Xavier Vincke
Following soil erosion, the rivers carry sediment into the lagoons, such as here in the Toliara region
© WWF MWIOPO / Xavier Vincke

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