Social entrepreneurship can bring sustainable development to Madagascar
For our first reforestation project we chose the island nation of Madagascar. Madagascar is a wonderfully luxuriant place, and, thanks to its millions-of-years-long separation from the African continent, is home to an incredible amount of biodiversity. Alas, this is constantly under the threat of deforestation. Estimates are that already 90% of the island's forests are already lost, impacting the fauna and leading to soil erosion and ultimately desertification. Add to this the fact that Madagascar is still a predominently poor country. Two thirds of its population live in poverty on less than $2 a day. The disappearance of the forests and consequent complete exploitation of the soil is not sustainable.
But things are starting to change for the better and this is where our local partner, Marie Allimant comes in. She is Malagasy and studied in France. As a kid, she had this dream of protecting lemurs and their habitat. After completing her studies, she decided to return to Madagascar and start taking action to help the island and its environment, its inhabitants. She believes in reforestation because it rebuilds natural habitats, replenishes the land, anchors the soil and as trees are carbon sinks it helps fight climate change.
So she set up Alamanga, and started to plant in deforested areas. The company has already planted tens of thousands of trees and plans to reach 500.000 by 2015. Their goal is to replant forests as close as possible to their original state. They plant endemic species (80% of local species are found nowhere else in the world) and leguminosae in order to nourish the over exploited soil.
All the employees are local people who can earn a living by restoring the island's ecosystem. They are also taught how to take care of them and of their environment. And here lies the magic: unlike the past, the money from trees does not come from cutting them, now it comes from planting them!
That's Marie's belief: social entrepreneurship can bring a durable, sustainable development to the island. It's a belief we share and we hope you'll join us in helping to reforest this area and rejuvenate the local economy.