World Environment Day has been celebrated annually on 5 June since 1974, engaging governments, businesses and citizens to address pressing environmental issues. The 2021 World Environment Day kicks off the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a global mission to revive billions of hectares of destructed nature. The IBU is pleased to contribute to this mission through the Biathlon Climate Challenge. #GenerationRestoration
100’000 trees to be planted in Northwest Madagascar
Thanks to great engagement by almost 8’000 Biathlon fans, the Biathlon Climate Challenge (BCC) reached its ambitious goal of 100’000 trees on 25 May 2021. These trees will now be planted on the coast of Northwest Madagascar by Eden Reforestation Projects (Eden), the NGO partner of the BCC and Active Giving.
Madagascar is an island country in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa. Being an island, Madagascar has evolved in relative isolation and boasts over 200,000 species that don’t exist anywhere else in the world. Today, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot whose livelihood is threatened by the rapidly growing human population and other environmental threats.
Species under threat
The Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is the world’s most comprehensive source on the global conservation status of all species. Many of Madagascar’s unique animals and plant species live on the brink of extinction. At times, 48% of the mammal species in Madagascar were threatened with extinction and included on the Red List. In fact, one of the rarest species of mammals on earth calls Madagascar home—the lemur.
More than half of all lemur species are listed as vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered. The two primary reasons for this are poaching and deforestation. While forests are being cut down to make charcoal, lemurs are quite literally hanging on to the last branches of hope for their survival.
Problem of deforestation
Tragically, more than 90% of Madagascar’s original forests have already been destroyed, endangering the Malagasy’s ability to farm and live on the land. Mangrove forests are crucial for coastal ecosystems because they are essential to the health of coral reefs, protect the coastlines, reduce carbon in the atmosphere, and contribute to entire underwater ecosystems. Today, vast mangrove estuaries are gone, leaving the bare earth to wash away into the sea.
Eden launched its Madagascar project sites in 2007, initially to restore ecologically devastated mangrove estuaries in the northwest of the country. Eden now also partners with two local national park systems, which aim to reforest and revive natural habitats for endangered and endemic animal species.
Engaging the locals in restoration
Eden applies a holistic approach to reforestation and ecological restoration. Through its Employ-to-Plant methodology, they have hired hundreds of local villagers to restore their land by planting trees. To this day, 490 million trees have been planted in Madagascar by Eden’s village employees, and thousands more are being planted each day.
Eden hires and trains people in the local villages to plant trees that are native to the island. This gives the locals a consistent income. As the reforestation effort goes on, healthy forests begin to emerge, and the harmful effects of deforestation slowly disappear. Eden also hires locals to protect the reforested area from being destroyed by patrolling the area for fires, smoke, and poachers. This includes preventing fires within the area by cleaning the surrounding areas from brush and trash.
Restoration in Madagascar helps protect the natural habitats of lemurs and other endangered species, protecting the biodiversity richness of the island.
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Picture: Eden Reforestation