29 July 2007

Red rivers on an eroded island



[7/28/07 Dear Christian, The deforestation here is devastating. Don’t start in with the enviro-kid jokes. This really is sickening. On the flight northwest from Tana, in the center of Madagascar, to Mahajanga, all you see are minute tufts of vegetation in a sea of mossy looking land where only shrubs grow. Madagascar is home to some of the world’s most cherished biodiversity – most plants and animals here don’t exist anywhere else, and a treatment for leukemia was found in the island’s forests. But only 10 percent of the original habitat remains. Villagers, needing more land to plant rice so they can eat, burn down the forests. I was surprised to see that it still happens. Just on Thursday, I saw a smoldering patch of dry, red earth. The soil here is surprisingly poor, and once the natural vegetation is gone, it can’t be used for too long. It’s kind of difficult to get all high and mighty about the deforestation, considering the fact that America has scraped clean many of its forests and native prairies. But that doesn’t make this situation any less tragic. So far, Madagascar hasn’t seemed at all the tropical heaven it’s often thought to be – or portrayed to be. From what I’ve seen, this is a desert. The rivers wash down so much bleeding, eroded soil that the ocean is stained red.]

3 comments:

lackofintellect said...

I have really enjoyed following the adventure so far, keep up the posts!

It is a shame what is happening to the environment due to economic hardship.

Bryan Dean said...

John-
Jim "Special K" Killackey asked about you today. I sent him the link to this site and your latest e-mail update.

People miss you more than you know. Even people you probably never thought would miss you at all.

Anonymous said...

OK, so now i am confused...there is a blue ridge parkway in Madagascar?