09 April 2012

Has anything happened in Madagascar the last 6 months?

Re-revving the bloggin engine.

Here are a list of links that focus on Madagascar and/or conservation that I was considering reacting more fully to over the last 6 months. Oldest first.

New research agenda for Africa’s dry forests defined at Durban - CIFOR
Back in December, in conjunction with COP17 in Durban, a 1 dy conference was held to discuss dryland forest. Despite covering much of the African continent, this ecosystem has been largely ignored by carbon politics because it is far less densely forested than humid forests. It also happens to support more than half the population of the continent. This piece highlights the take homes from the conference, dryland forest value and some of the challenges.

Madagascar squares up to 'extreme' climate vulnerability - AlertNet
Also at Durban, there was discussion of the vulnerability of Madagascar to climate change. "Maplecroft, an international risk analysis firm, ranks Madagascar third for “extreme” climate risk in the world, behind only Bangladesh and India, Rakotoarisoa said." FOlks are working on rice intensification through low-till processess and flood and drought resistant seeds. THey have also been developing early-warning systems for cyclones, which became very necessary as two major cyclones hit Madagascar in the months after this report.

Madagascar’s Lemurs, Sacred No More - NYTimes
There was a flurry of coverage in the wake of a couple of papers that came out around hunting and taboos in Madagascar. One of the things things that Jenkins et al (2011) noted was that as traditional taboos were changing (due to migration and religious transitions amongst others) that endangered lemurs were becoming more culturally acceptable to hunt. This work was done very close to and found far higher rates of bushmeat consumption than we did.

Caution urged in sale of Madagascar's illegal timber stockpiles - Mongabay
In light of the recent announcement that Gabon is set to burn its ivory stockpiles, this February discussion of how to deal with Madagascar's illegally harvested precious hardwood's gains some poignancy. "Done right, funds from selling timber at auction could go toward forest protection and poverty alleviation efforts. Done wrong, sales of confiscated timber could enrich traffickers, boost demand for Madagascar's rare hardwoods, and spur new logging."
Help Madagascar Silk Weavers Share Their Experiences and Work Towards Sustainability - Hurry Boy It's Waiting There For You
Intrepid blogger and Madagascar RPCV Chris Planicka shares a story about the silk weavers of Madagascar and their (still current) efforts to get the cash they need to build markets in the US for their amazing scarves and hats. This effort is being innovated upon by NGOs in the north of the island in their attempt to find sustainable incomes for folks living next to and within new protected areas. The PCV -partnered project that Chris talks about seems to have better footing to me.

Indonesian 'Eves' colonised Madagascar 1,200 years ago - PhysOrg
A recent study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society determined from genetic analysis that about 30 women (plus men, potentially) settled Madagascar from Indo-Polynesia about 1200 years ago. Women weren't found on trading vessels so the question is open as to how they came to arrive in Madagascar...

Species Hitched Ride to Madagascar on Floating Islands - Live Science
Madagascar has been seperated from the mainland for 80 million years and the species on the isalnd radiated after that time. So how did they get there? By comparing the times and locations that current species on the island would have separated from their nearest neighbors, Karen Samonds from the University of Queensland, Australia says we can conclude that it must have been on large rafts of vegetation floating across the Mozambique channel. "For example," she says, "DNA evidence indicates that just one primate species made it across, probably 40 or 50 million years ago, and that ancestral form gave rise to the 101 descendent species you can find in Madagascar today."

and finally...

Learning on the Road to Nowhere in Madagascar - NYTimes Scientists at Work Blog
An entomologist who has worked for years in Madagascar tries to reach a largely pristine forest in one of the remotest corners of the island during the peak of rainy season. What can go wrong. This exciting post shows how adventurous (and maybe a bit crazy) we have to be to love doing this kind of work.