Deforestation and Soil Loss in Madagascar15.5S 46.8E
Deforestation in Madagascar is an ongoing environmental issue. Deforestation with resulting desertification, water resource degradation and soil loss has affected approximately 94% of Madagascar’s previously biologically productive lands. Here, the country’s red soils can be seen as sediment spilling forth from rivermouths along the coast.
Since the arrival of humans 2000 years ago, Madagascar has lost more than 90% of its original forest. 70% of the forest cover of Madagascar was destroyed between 1895 and 1925, while Madagascar was under French rule. Since 1953, half of the remaining forest has been lost.
Largely due to deforestation, the country is currently unable to provide adequate food, fresh water and sanitation for its fast growing population. One major cause of deforestation has been the introduction of coffee as a cash crop during the French colonial period.
Primary causes of forest loss include slash-and-burn for agricultural land (a practice known locally as tavy) and for pasture, selective logging for precious woods or construction material, the collection of fuel wood (including charcoal production), and forest clearing for mining.