It is believed that Madagascar split from the Indian Peninsula around 88 million years ago, allowing native plants and animals to evolve in relative isolation. This might be the reason why Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot: over 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth! Unfortunately, many of Madagascar's biological blessings are threatened by redwood harvesting and the destruction of forests for farming and charcoal.
Madagascar hosts more than 10,000 plant species, of which more than 90% are endemic to the island. The endemics include five unique plant families such as the baobab trees or the traveler's palm. The island has all sorts of vegetation and there's a distinction between the West, centre and East vegetation: dry forests and grasslands dominate the Centre; the East receives more rain from the Indian Ocean, which propitiates the existence of rainforests; meanwhile, the Southwest features unique spiny forests and it is also the driest region of Madagascar. Sadly, deforestation has led to the decline of many native vegetation types and has changed Madagascar's natural flora dramatically.
As a volunteer in Madagascar, you can join a conservation project to make a real difference in the effort to preserve the unique fauna of Madagascar. Many conservation projects will be located in the south of the island. The south is perhaps the most unique part of Madagascar in terms of scenery and flora. Depending on the volunteer work in Madagascar you will join, typical tasks might include:
- Working at the primary field station or at tree nurseries
- Collecting seeds within an established forest
- Preparing for a community planting event
- Sorting compost
- Placing seedlings into growing bags
- Organizing the tree inventory
- Planting trees with the local community groups or school children
As a volunteer in Madagascar, your work can make a significant and lasting contribution to the social project goals