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Dr Russell - Op Wallacea Madagascar - 4th August 2011

Day 16

Left camp with most of the other staff at about 0830hrs to travel by old army truck cross country on the dirt track, repeating the four hours journey of two weeks ago.  Apart from a rather close brush with a bush fire, the journey itself was quite pleasant and gave me a chance to reflect on the last two weeks.  A fascinating country with incredible wildlife, most of which is endemic and only found in Madagascar.  At the same time, a land under incredible threat and pressure with increasing urbanisation and pressure on the land for food and fuel.  90% of the island’s original forest has gone and the remaining 10% is at grave risk.  Hopefully projects like this working towards carbon storage / carbon trading schemes, coupled with carefully managed eco-tourism, may protect what remains.

The burning of the forest seems so wasteful.  If charcoal has to be made, we should get Malagasy foresters to come and see how coppicing in the UK kept sustainable charcoal production going for generations.

It’s been a fascinating and rewarding trip.  No major medical emergencies thankfully, lots of opportunities to learn, and I’ve met some great people.  I would be great to think that I may get the chance to come back, and I hope what remains of the forest will be preserved for future generations to wonder over.

Back to Antananarivo this afternoon and home to the UK via Johannesburg tomorrow.