Second Environment Programme of 1995
Conference opening in French; Second Environment Programme (PE2) of 1995
Madagascar habitat destruction
NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
10 Apr 1995
- -18.91667 47.51667
Stereo=1; Decoded MS stereo
3:50 opening of conference in French. good enough you get the idea...environment...Madagascar...conservation, etc.
Joseph Andriamampianina, director general, national office of environment in Madagascar
ENVIRONMENT ALWAYS BEEN YOUR PASSION?
1:04:15 I am a forester. and excuse me, it is difficult for me to speak English, but I try to explain you how I have been here in national office of environment. I am a forester. and since 20 years ago I have been interested about environment, especially Malagasy environment. you know of the great problems here in Madagascar, especially deforestation and soil erosion. in our national environment action plan you put the priority about the struggle in deforestation, in erosion of soil.
YOU BEEN FORESTER. SO WHEN A BOY, YOUNG MAN, DID LIVE IN CITY OR COUNTRY?
WAS THERE FOREST/
WAS THERE NOTICABLY MORE FOREST WHEN YOU BOY.
no no. yes... //it is true.
WHEN YOU BOY HOW MUCH FOREST WAS THERE?
20 years 107:00 ago there were here about 15 millions hectares of forest. now there are only 12 million hectares of forest.
PHARMACEUTICALS-ROSY PERIWINKLE-WHEN SCIENCE FIND ROSY PERIWINKLE HAD PHARMACEUTICAL USE. WHAT YEAR-WHEN HAPPEN?
this plant is endemic here in Madagascar, and it is used by pharmaceutical firms for medicines against some disease. it's very interesting for Madagascar to have these species. but Madagascar does not have the benefits with this plant.
THE PROFITS FROM THIS PLANT DOES NOT COME TO MADAGASCAR?
does not come to Madagascar.
WHY IS THAT
I don't know. because we don't have the production.
WHAT SHOULD AMERICANS KNOW ABOUT YOUR COUNTRY?
1:10:25 Americans should know about this specialty of our biodiversity, because we have here in Madagascar many species of animals and plants which are endemic. and I think about 80 percent of our species of plants are special here in Madagascar, and it is very interesting to see these animals and plants in our country, because I think it... for ecotourism...to observe them in the nature, it is very interesting. and I think the American people are very interested to see them here in our country.
MADAGASCAR SPECIAL PLACE?
it has special place about biodiversity in the world.
I guess Alison jolly, teach at Princeton university, study mostly in berenty in south of Madagascar. follow a few troops of ring tail lemurs as well as brown and white sifaka.
WHAT LEMURS ARE?
1:12:44 the first thing to say is that lemurs are not our ancestors, they're our cousins. of course they've evolved just as long as we have. but we both started from something that looked very much like a modern lemur-the only thing is it lived in Wyoming and in Paris forty to fifty million years ago. that ancestral lemur-like creature had descendants who came down to Africa then rafted across to Madagascar hanging onto logs, maybe hibernating inside logs, there's one modern one which hibernates. when it got to Madagascar it found a kind of mini continent with all sorts of climates and areas to speciate into and developed happily into the modern lemurs we know today.
1:13:49 there's another piece to this story in that the monkeys and apes evolved afterward in Africa. the oldest fossils are about 35million yeas old, not 40 million years old, but they were too late. they missed the boat. they didn't get to Madagascar. wherever there are monkeys today the lemur-like creatures have retreated into the night, live on insects, are solitary. you'd never mistake them for a monkey. in Madagascar the lemurs are free to develop a social life, to come our during the day, to eat fruit, and take over all of the monkeys and apes niches and ways of life.
SO THEY'VE EVOLVED A SOCIAL LIFE WOULDN'T HAVE HAD IF MONEKYS WERE AROUND?
1:14:45 it's sad to say that monkeys actually are more intelligent than lemurs by just about any measure you can think of, and it looks as though if you let loose a pregnant macaque monkey in Madagascar, that would be the end of the lemurs. her descendants would just take over. but meanwhile, in this wonderful isolated land you've got lemurs that live in pairs with their young, lemurs that live in troops and go crashing thru the branches, it's all here.
WHEN YOU THINK BIODEVERSITY-IN TERMS OF THAT, REP~ESENTITING SOMETHING TO OUTSIDE WORLD, WHAT DIFF WOULD MAKE IF MONEY CAME HERE ...
We'd lose... (pause) oh dear.. 1:16:0t ...to be scientific we'd lose this clue to our own distant past, to how animals ever started evolving to being social, to being intelligent like us. but... oh dear...what we'd lose are things that go from a mouse lemur, that are the size of a mouse except huge little baby nocturnal eyes and a long fuzzy tail right up to the indri, which is as big as a three year old child and is black and white and leaps 20 feet between tree trunks and sings from hill to hill. there are about 30 species of lemurs, many more subspecies, and they are black and white and orange and piebald(?) we'd lose so much beauty in the world. and that's not even starting on the rest of the creatures and plants that live in Madagascar. that's just the lemurs.
BIODIVERSITY BROUGHT US TO MADAGASCAR-WE'RE GONNA TRY TO EXPLAIN-BUT PEOPLE KEEP SAYING, WHAT IS BIO?
1:18:00 well, biodiversity is basically just numbers and differences between animals and plants. but that is kind of bald. let me tell you about Madagascar. Madagascar is about a thousand miles long. you put the north end on new york, the south end is on orlando florida. so there's a lot of space. the rain comes in the east side, hits the escarpment; sheds its rain then as you go over to the west it gets dryer and dryer, and over in the west you have baobab forests, huge swollen baobab trees towering up. in the south you have an area that looks like the sonoran desert. in each of these areas, everything is unique. you look in the rain forest, eighty percent of those plant species are unique to Madagascar. it looks like dry disig forest, but even the baobabs, there are seven kinds in Madagascar but only one in all of Africa. it looks like sonoran desert, those tall fingery things that you say are cactuses. nope. there's only one cactus in Madagascar, it lives in the rain forest. these things are endemic plant families that have evolved in Madagascar with the form of our cactuses. in that southern area, ninety five percent of the plant species are unique to Madagascar. so if we lost those forests, we'd lose worlds of other plants and animals. that's biodiversity. so if we lost Madagascar, we'd lose a whole alternate world of plants and animals, a whole continent of them. that's biodiversity.
121:00 ONE OF THINGS--ABOUT THE LEMUR--IT'S...A NUMBER OF PEOPLE HAVE SAID TO ME, THESE ARE NOT VERY SMART ANIMALS. THEY ARE APELIKE BUT NOT.
To tell the truth, lemurs aren't really very bright. they're not intelligent in the way we think of intelligence, which has a lot to do with manipulation. you have a monkey in the house, it takes the place apart. it opens the medicine cabinet with all the locks you put on it, drops the contents in the 100 and flushes it... To tell the truth, lemurs aren't very smart. they're not very smart in the way we think of creatures being smart, which has a lot to do with manipulation. if you had a pet monkey in the house, which you shouldn't, it would take the place apart. if you had a lemur, it's not really interested in demolishing things. it doesn't look for it's food inside things. it doesn't use its hands even to peel a banana, it just chomps down on the banana. so with all that kind of manipulative intelligence lemurs score low in comparison to the monkeys. if you look at social intelligence, the lemurs that live in troops have to know who's who, have to be aware of the dominance ranking, whose enemy, whose friend, who children are when grown up, so the kind of intelligence that is personal relations is all there in the lemurs. (up inflection)
YOU BEEN WORKING HERE MORE 30 YEARS-SEEN DEFORESTATION OCCUR WHERE BEEN WORKING?
1:23:31 In area, I've been working in, yes, and everywhere in Madagascar where there is natural forest it's going. it's almost a pure case of poor people needing to use the forest, doing slash and burn agriculture, setting fires for pastureland, you can't point at villains and say, 'there's a company that should know better that's ripping off the place', it's a kind of tragedy without villains, but it is a tragedy. the other thing I should say is that there's much more hope now than there was, that the~ politicians in Madagascar, and the aid agencies, are really working now to save the biodiversity, so there are many signs that things could be done to improve life here.
HEARD PROJECTS TRY INCORPORATE JOBS FOR LOCAL PEOPLE IN PARKS, ETC. BUT HOW MANY REALLY HELP AS OPPOSED TO SUBSISTENCE AGRICULTURE, 80 PERCENT PEOPLE DOING?
1:25:08 to tell the truth, make-work jobs won't really help very much. you need to really improve the age that means better techniques, better access to agriculture and credit, it means crops that can be bought which gets you into international commodity prices. so really it's a question of economic development in a very poor country. but again, the politicians, the aid agencies, the donors, are very well aware that survival of forests, biodiversity, depends an immense amount on intI commodity prices and debt relief, not just working on the forest edge.
IMPRESSED-AGENDA FOR CONFERENCE-NUMBER 1 ITEM IS HOW SET PRIORITIES FOR SECOND PHASE ACTION PLAN AND NUMBER TWO, WHAT ARE SOCIAL THINGS NEED DO TO CONVERT THOSE PRIORITES TO A WORKABLE POLICY.
126:41 that's very much the theme of what's been going on in Madagascar for the last ten years. ten years ago the big conference before this one was an occasion when Malagasy authorities said we have to have sustainable development, and that means people and land, not just biodiversity. so they're very aware that this is what's needed. it's not easy. I'm not saying that we're winning, we meaning the Malagasy, but it's at least... everybody knows that's what has to be done. the way one official put it to me, o.k., we're an island, a very big island, a continent, but it's an island. if you destroyed your country in America or the French did, they could just walk to the next country. destroy ours and we'd have to swim. WHAT FIND HERE? white sifaka...a crowned sifaka...that used to be in woods around here. but it's been a very long time since there was any woods around here. The very old houses up by the queens palace are made of wood, and that was showing off even in those days because you had the wood brought from the eastern forest. probably this area has been cleared from almost the beginning of human settlement here, almost "a thousand years ago. the one will find ... not at zoo... is at the market. the name of the market is ananakaylee, which means, the little forest.
GOING MUSUEM-EGGS OF ELEPHANT BIRDS-SKELETON OF CROC¬
130:01 When you go to museum you'll see what used to exist here. the giant lemurs and elephant birds went extinct after humans settled here. the last fossils of the fossil lemurs are 13th century, well into human settlement times. what you'll see are the skeleton of the elephant bird which makes ostrich look like graceful little ballet dancer. huge thighs on elephant bird, and of course the eggs held two gallons. you'll also see skeletons of giant lemurs which was like big koala bear except size of a female gorilla. great long jaws like a cows, chewed on leaves like koala bear, and a swivel joint on back of neck so didn't actually have to move, could just reach out... and little holes in its nasal bones which have nerves coming out that might have operated something like trunk, tapir like trunk, also to help schump in leavs int ose coow like jaws. you can imagine how vulnerable it was, big fat thing that didn't like to move hanging off trees. of course people killed it. ELEPHAT BIRDS--INCREDIBLE they were megafauna. herd of elephant birds thundering across plane would have made up no having big African game.
NO DEER, NO ANTELOPE, ETC.
1:33:10 They couldn't make it. they couldn't swim. they evolved too late. like the moneys, which evolved too late, and the big carnivores. there are no lions or tigers or wolves. only mongoose like things. the mammals all evolved too late, after Madagascar was separated and there was was a stretch of sea. so the ones that got here were the early evolved mammals and the ones that could survive and float in tree trunks. so you have the descendants of mongeese, a few rodents, but the big ones never made it, and the modern ones that never made it. another thing that I'm very happy didn't. make it are the poisonous snakes.
CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT WOULD--IF YOU TRANSPORTED HERE A THOUSAND YEARS AGO, OR TWO, AND WALKED AROUND, WHAT WOULD HAVE SEEN IN MADAGASCAR WALKING AROUND. WOULD THERE HAVE BEEN HERDS OF THESE ELEPHANT BIRDS--I MEAN, COMPLETELY ANOTHER WORLD ...
1:34:22 you should ask ross mcphee, bob dewar, they know better. You'd have seen, the big things would be elephant birds browsing and grazing and striding over the hills, you'd have had pygmy hippos wallowing in the ponds, and you would have had giant tortoises. the tortoises here were bigger even than the giant tortoises that live in ? and the Galapagos. I mean, great big bathtub like shells they left. and they would have been trundling along eating the grass too. those would have been the browsers. there was a carnivore, a fouche, that would have been like an oversized mountain lion that would have been preying on giant lemurs. The thing that you really want to to see though, the thing you can see now looking out over the landscape, is that it was all a mosaic of little copses, where there are rice fields now where there would have been evergreen forest, maybe a pair of giant lemurs hanging from the branches bellowing at each other, bellowing over the hill to the next little copse. then as you went uphill, now it's bare grass with the fires across, but then it would have been tree savannah, with dotted trees and baboon like lemurs running between them and climbing the tress. but also the elephant birds, giant tortoise eating the grass. what happened, of course, is not just that people came hunting things, but people brought their cows. and the cows were the modern herbivores that changed the whole landscape so there wasn't any room anymore for the things on the hills and people of course cut the forest, the evergreen forest to pIant rice, so one way or another it all went. but there would have been the same landscape you see now.
1:39:04 Voara Randrianasolo, I am the general director of research at the Ministry Applied for Research and Development.
WHEN YOU SAY THE MINISTRY APPLIED FOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, DO YOU MEAN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND THAT SORT OF THING?
yes, indeed, there are different aspects of development. of . course, as you see, the main focus of Madagascar is agriculture and husbandry. YES. So, that's why that is handled by one research center. But we have over research centers such as National Research Center for Environment Studies, for oceanography, for pharmaceutical studies related to traditional medicines, and also for industry and technology. So, those are the basis of the research infrastructure we have to promote the different sectors in Madagascar.
EVERYONE AT THIS CONFERENCE IS TALKING ABOUT BIODIVERSITY, IS IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE BIODIVERSITY PRESERVED AND HAVE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AT THE SAME TIME? DOESN'T BIODIVERSITY, IT USES UP THE RESOURCES FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DOESN'T IT?
Well, in part of what you say is true, biological diversity is used for development. But I think there is a way for Madagascar to save biological diversity and use it for development. Personally, I was involved in environmental problems since the last ten years. And being botanists, being a botanist myself, I see the value of biodiversity for development. For an example, just to give an example, for some of us, medicinal plants in Madagascar, you are aware about the rosy periwinkle. I think that if we, the whole population, was aware about medicinal plants way back in the past, say 20 years ago,¿ we would have received help in trying to find drugs, new drugs from plants. And Madagascar is quite rich in flora. So, I think that is one aspect of real importance of biodiversity for development and for the benefit of mankind.
WHEN YOU SAY IF WE WOULD HAVE KNOWN ABOUT THIS TWENTY YEARS AGO MADAGASCAR WOULD HAVE GOTTEN MORE HELP, YOU MEAN THAT THE OUTSIDE WORLD HAD REALIZED THIS TWENTY YEARS AGO?
Yes, I think so.
WHEN WAS THE DISCOVERY OF THE USE OF THE ROSY
Well, I can't tell you off the top of my head here.
But about twenty years ago. YEAH. and the first government, the first republic in Madagascar, and it is like a flagship of biodiversity and use of biodiversity for Madagascar,
but the problem with the government is that they didn't know how to handle . because they didn't cooperate or collaborate well-with the company who is exploiting this plant.
SO, THE GOVERNMENT NEVER GOT ANYTHING OUT OF IT?
Nothing, except for saying that the plant comes from Madagascar and thank you. [LAUGHTER]
THANK YOU VERY MUCH. WHERE DOES THE ROSY PERIWINKLE COME FROM IN
From the forest here, from the forest ecosystem in Madagascar up north. And to tell you the truth, there are about 20 related species of plants to that plant where the active principle called vincoblastin was discovered. So, I think if we look carefully in the compound found in those 20 over the plants related to the first that we discovered there might be something that we can still make a breakthrough for mankind. IS ANYONE LOOKING AT THOSE 20 PLANTS NOW? It's quite difficult because it requires financial and collaboration of various institutions. About 7 years ago, I was traveling in the States, and I was requested by one laboratory to work together with them, but unfortunately I was moved to different position and they passed on to my other colleagues with flagship. And I hope that they are collaborating with the institution at the moment.
[QUESTION IN BACKGROUND] ABOUT THE ROSY PERIWINKLE, COULD YOU TELL ME
WHAT DOES THE PLANT LOOK LIKE IN THE FOREST, ¿WHAT ARE ITS PROPERTIES, WHAT CAN IT DO?
The rosy periwinkle, it's very shrubby, very small plant, about 50 centimeters in height. It's pink, the flower is pink. It has five petals. And its becoming very adaptive to different conditions now. You can find it in different gardens, even in the roadside of Antananarivo you can find it. It has very elongated roots from which most Madagascar people are using for different purposes. But to tell you about the, the active compound found in it. There are
two compounds, called vincoblastin and vincocrestin, used to make drugs, cure leukemia and some diseases related to cancer.
I ALWAYS WONDER, HOW'DO YOU EVER FIND OUT THAT THIS COMPOUND EXISTS IN THIS PLANT AND IT MIGHT BE USED FOR THIS DISEASE? HOW DID THEY FIND OUT ABOUT THE ROSY PERIWINKLE?
Well, I think there are some ethnobotnical studies first here to look at how the Madagotrustie, what you say Madagascar healer, is using the plants
HOW A NATURAL HEALER
yes healer is using it. And we start from these studies, and the company will just make tests to see what is active in the extract.
SO WHAT THE NATURAL HEALER WAS ALREADY USING THE ROSY PERIWINKLE? Yes. EVERYONE WHO IS HERE AT THE CONFERENCE WHO TALKS TO US, NO I'M SORRY, OUTSIDE WHEN YOU READ ABOUT MADAGASCAR IN THE PRESS OUTSIDE, THEY SAY THEY'RE DESTROYING THE FORESTS TOO QUICKLY AND THERE'S GOING
TO BE NOTHING LEFT.
Unfortunately, if you go just 100 km outside Antanarive, you see that much of the forest has been shrinking, even in the last five years. You can see that about a two km stretch has been cut down. This is due to different factors, but some, mainly, is due to the slash and burn
agriculture, what we call the vitavie system of agriculture, burning it then growing the seeds straight out of it. And due to the economical problem, people need land. But the government has tried already to stabilize this, by helping people to stay on the land they started to exploit. So, they don't move as much anymore. What I mean is that the government is allocating land so people don't move as much anymore. It's still a project in the beginning, but I think it's successful in some parts of Madagascar.
[MEANING THAT THEY TRY TO GET MORE OUT OF THE LAND THEY'RE ALREADY ON RATHER THAN MOVE SOMEPLACE ELSE, OR CAN YOU GIVE US AN EXAMPLE?]
yes. We are developing a program, what you call, the integrated program for conservated development around protected areas, and try to help the neighboring people who are living around the forest, who do stable agriculture. It means we help them with different structure, both in agriculture, small husbandry, schooling, in terms of assistance in fertilizer, what you call also a rural credit, so that they can do a small operation. It requires time, but I think that's one way we can stabilize this and save the forest.
IS THAT A NATIONAL GOAL FOR PEOPLE IN MADAGASCAR TO SAVE THE FOREST? I'LL TELL YOU FRANKLY THAT IN MY COUNTRY IT IS NOT. PEOPLE DON'T, CONSERVATION IS SOMETHING THAT SOME PEOPLE BELIEVE IN, BUT MOST PEOPLE DON'T REALLY CARE ABOUT IT, IN MY COUNTRY, THINK. OR, THEY CARE ABOUT IT SORT OF A LITTLE BIT, THEY, IF YOU DO PUBLIC OPINION SURVEYS IN THE UNITED STATES, YOU FIND MANY PEOPLE SAY WE SUPPORT THE ENVIRONMENT, WE THINK IT'S A GOOD IDEA BUT THEN WHEN IT COMES TIME TO MAKE POLICY DECISIONS, TO DECIDE ARE WE GOING TO PROTECT THIS LAND OR EXPLOIT THIS LAND, IT'S USUALLY: WE'RE GOING TO EXPLOIT IT. I WONDER WHAT IT'S 'LIKE IN MGDSR AMONG THE PEOPLE, THE 80% WHO ARE SMALL FARMERS, WHAT IS THE THINKING ABOUT THE LAND?
They're still thinking among the Madagascar, you say that 80% who are farmers, they still believe the forest will never disappear. The forest will always be there. There is a saying in the Malagasy proverb, it's in Malagasy, but I'll try to translate it. The forest is like a sea, it will never end. It will be always there. And that's dangerous.
IT'S DANGEROUS YOU SAY.
Dangerous, yes, most people believe that even if you cut part of the forest, there will still be some forest left. And, personally, or even you, if you take an airplane through the Niral, you can see the forest is shrinking. The government has made lots of sensibilization and lots of program. As you know, in 1985 there was the first breakthrough on environment sensibilization here. And there are many program. I think we are doing well in term of sensibilization, education of people. But we need a lot more, we need support. And we need criticism of what we did so we can improve our techniques, our methods.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
154:51 IF WE GO TO PERINET TOMORROW, WILL WE SEE AREAS FOREST BEEN CUT ALONG THE WAY?
oh certainly. first you will see area where eucaliptus plantations where make charcoal. and then farther after that the forest, and slash and burn agriculture, which is expanding on either side of the road. 156:15 there is a Malagasy proverb, (something in Malagasy) which means 'it will never end, like the eastern forest in Madagascar. Malagasy use that proverb in different circumstances if one wants to say it will never end.
Madagascar Tape log:
DAT #1: Conference Tape -Stereo field
03:53 Description Conf. introductions. Clipped at the top. MC intros
06:38 1st speaker. Different mic. Speakers in room behind me. To go with wireless mic. Out
applause: little distorted.
21:35 2nd speaker. Move to middle of room to be near the speakers.
26:37 3rd speaker. He overdrives the house PA a little.
34:08 good, well balanced applause.
34:26 4th speaker. Woman. Drives the PA system a little too much. Distorted PA
45:51 5th Speaker. Soft spoken woman.
51:57 good polite applause
52:41 wide shot of reception following opening remarks. In main hall.
54:00 Smaller reception room. Closer shot. Crowded.
58:50 Wide shot. Larger room. A little ambient music.
1:01:00 different perspective. Less music.
1:03:20 intv Dir of National Office of Environment in Madagascar.
1:11:56 intv Allison Jolly (good)
1:37:00 ambience for interview room
1:39:04 intv Gen. Dir. of Research at the Ministry Applied for Research & Development in Madagascar. (Voava) (good)