Soil, forests and agriculture: what challenges to face climate change in Madagascar?
Madagascar contains natural wealth in its soil, forests and other ecosystem services, which held make the country resilient to climate change, and lock up stores of carbon which prevent further climate change. The Island is also among the priority countries for biodiversity conservation – a biodiversity ‘hot spot’ – thanks to its high levels of unique wildlife.
However, the continued degradation of natural habitats in Madagascar threaten the country’s biodiversity, its climate resilience, and its ability to lock up carbon. This degradation is mainly caused by human activities: deforestation, conventional ‘slash and burn’ agriculture practices, illicit exploitation, overcutting, and unstructured land use significantly reduce forest cover and result in greenhouse gas emissions, soil depletion and land abandonment.
At the same time, the Malagasy population is one of the poorest on the planet and agriculture is the main human activity. This agriculture is strongly dependent on a stable climate. Climate change observed in recent decades may have negative impacts on agriculture, biodiversity, and more generally on the environment, societies and economies of Madagascar.
In this context, the Government of Madagascar mobilised funds to address climate change, food security and the fight against desertification and land degradation. Beyond conventional investment in environmental conservation, the Government embraced the idea of generating revenue from a form of ‘payment for ecosystem services scheme’ called REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), by which donor bodies pay for the avoidance of forest carbon emissions.
This Small Grant was to support a side event at the historic Paris Climate Summit in December 2015 (also known as UNFCCC COP21). The event aimed to be a day of exchanges between scientists, policy-makers and civil society concerning adaptation to and mitigation of climate change, with a focus on soil and forest resources in Madagascar.