05 July 2012

Recent news stories from Madagascar...that aren't about the movie

After a few weeks of my Madagascar news alerts being dominated by Madagascar 3 box office reports, there were actually a few relevant updates this week about conservation and other developments that have to do with the real island, people, and biota. Amazing.

Here is a blog from the New Internationalist that bemoans just this and catches all of us up on the recent political history that has been blotted from our minds by cartoon zoo animals.

Centre Valbio, long an active force for conservation efforts and ecological science in Madagascar, has finally opened its research center. This will ensure that Ranomafana continues to be the research hub on the island, and will ensure that international collaboration continues to be fruitful, though I worry that it will keep attention focussed on a very well studied area that isn't necessarily emblematic of the rest of the island. For example, huge amounts of tourism dollars flow to Ranomafana, but how well can conservation efforts there be transfered to other parts of the island that are far of tourist's maps?  This blog from Scientific American has the story.

Along these same lines, International collaboration will be even easier, as the country has launched an online research network that, according to the Science and Developmnet Network, "aims to boost science, technology and education in the country, as well as internationalise its science."

Madagascar recently signed an Economic Protection Agreement with the European Union. Under the agreement, Madagascar, along with several other nations will have reduced tarriff access to European markets. This would be awesome if it had happened before Madagascar lost a similar deal, AGOA, with the US and had to shut its textile factories down already, and if it didn't force the developing countries to open their markets to European goods as well. The African Development bank is already warning Zimbabwe that this is a bad deal according to allAfrica and it looks similar for Madagascar to me.

While they are at it, they should probably renegotiate their fishing access fees, since the European Union has been exploiting them and paying far less now then they were 2 decades ago due to fixed fees, according to a new study in Marine Policy (Check out the PhysOrg write-up on it). Shout out to Blue Ventures for their contributions to this research. They are an RPCV-managed NGO garnering major accolades for their innovative marine conservation and community development work.

And we all know music and aid go well together. Well, Razia is at it again, pulling together a great lineup to tour the US and Canada to fight illegal logging in Madagascar. At a time when Nashville is pissed with the Fed's for targeting Fender's alleged use of illegal rosewood and ebony, Razia has garnered support from many big named acts to abide by the Lacey Act. She is tireless and if you are in Minneapolis, Madison, or New York, be sure to go. Anyone is SF want to come out with me in a couple weeks? Check out the schedule here, and enjoy the promo video below.