Madagascar: Rainforest

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Madagascar Rainforest
Madagascar, located approximately 400 kilometers east of Africa is the world's fourth largest island. Because of its isolation it is occupied by some of the most unusual and rare species of plants and animals on earth. Madagascar was at one time formerly an independent kingdom; became a French colony in 1896 and regained independence in 1960. During 1992-93, free presidential and National Assembly elections were held ending 17 years of single-party rule(Science 1990). The main historical problem with international trade has been the correlated destruction of the environment. This is especially true when it comes to the issue of deforestation. In Madagascar, (Economic Geography, 1993) people have been cutting down the forests for decades. Throughout the past century, much of the rainforests of Madagascar have disappeared. People have begun moving out of the cities, industries have started to expand, and the use of land for farming (particularly coffee) has dramatically increased. All of these phenomenons have led to the destruction of the forest of Madagascar. Many plants and animal species have been severely endangered due to the deforestation (New Scientist 1990). With a current population near 14 million and growing at roughly 3% yearly combined with a per capita income of $230 per year, the major threats to the remaining forest are driven by subsistence needs and cutting for fuel. This has become a major issue, not only because of the value that the forest has on the living environment on earth, but also because of Madagascar's unusual and rare species. Biologically, Madagascar is one of the richest areas on earth. Approximately five percent of the world's species reside in Madagascar, and the island has 8,000 endemic species of flowering plants alone. The tropical rain forest of Madagascar before human colonization was…...

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