Looking for inspiration for your designs? Look below for information about our project, photos of the project site and some of the animals found here, and prompts to inspire your creative designs.
The Crystal Forest of Ihosy
In a region of Madagascar where nearly all forest is destroyed, a fragile, precious gem has just been discovered.
Totaling 3,460 acres in size, a newly-discovered tract of rainforest is sheltered within a sunken valley protected by quartzite mountains in the Ihosy region of southern Madagascar. This glittering rock formation forms a natural barrier to fires that constantly scour the area, leaving an isolated patch of primary forest surrounded by degraded grassland. Reflecting its incalculable value and the sparkling mineral that protects it, this rainforest has been given a fitting name: The Crystal Forest of Ihosy.
The interior of the forest is a riot of life, dominated by ancient tropical hardwood trees draped in vines. Dozens of bird species have been found here, as well as evidence of Madagascar’s iconic cat-like predator, the Fossa. It is a small island of green in a sea of dusty brown, the last tract of forest in an area that used to be covered in trees.
While the forest’s mere existence is a small miracle, the scientists from Centre ValBio that discovered it found something even more astonishing. Sheltering in this tiny tract of forest, they discovered two new lemur species, both of which exist nowhere else on Earth. One is a type of dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus sp.) and one is a new species of diminutive mouse lemur (Microcebus sp.) In addition, they discovered a unique population of the critically-endangered Ring-tailed Lemur (Lemur catta), which had never been documented to live in the montane rainforest.
Initial biological survey of the area by Centre ValBio biologists also recorded reptile and amphibian species which are likely to be new to science. Several new plant species were found as well, including undescribed species of tropical hardwood trees. Aside from entirely new species, other species that were found in this rainforest were previously thought to only exist in drier habitats hundreds of miles away.
The Phoenix Conservancy strives every day to reverse the trend of environmental degradation in Madagascar for the benefit of the island’s unique biodiversity and the Malagasy people.
We work to restore and protect natural habitats in collaboration with local communities and
conservation partners in order to preserve biodiversity, create ecological corridors, restore ecosystem services to degraded land, increase water availability and provide increased economic opportunities for the people who depend on Madagascar’s natural resources.
The Phoenix Conservancy believes strongly in working for a balance that benefits both ecosystems and the communities that depend on them. Our work in Madagascar is centered around restoring healthy ecosystems that improve people’s’ lives, both in access to vital resources and economically.
Water Is Everything
Madagascar ranks as one of the worst countries in the world for access to drinking water. UNESCO estimates that nearly half of the country’s 24.8 million people do not have access to clean drinking water, and in rural areas, only 34% use improved drinking water sources.
To make matters worse, Madagascar is increasingly arid. Major droughts have plagued the country with greater frequency, putting millions at risk. Large-scale deforestation has accelerated the process; in areas with little or no vegetation cover, the little rain that does fall washes back to the sea, eroding soils without recharging groundwater.
Ecosystem restoration provides many benefits to humans, but the ability of native vegetation to increase water availability is arguably the most important. In ecosystems around the world, from rainforests to deserts, restoration of natural vegetation increases the amount of available surface and groundwater, often dramatically. The roots of plants capture and slow groundwater, increasing downward movement of soil moisture to recharge springs and aquifers. Trees also draw moisture from the ground and back into the air through evapotranspiration in their leaves, pumping water back into the atmosphere and increasing rainfall.
The lack of water in Madagascar has made the importance of forest restoration even more urgent. Increasing forest cover increases the amount of water being held in an ecosystem for both wildlife and people and is a major focus of our work in The Crystal Forest.
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”-Gandhi
Think about this quote and how it relates to Phoenix Conservancy’s mission in Madagascar.
The Crystal Forest, our project site is threatened by the fire. The forest is home to two newly discovered species of lemurs and new species of plants. It is under constant threat by encroaching wildlife, Tell a story through an image about the fear these animals may be facing when the fire creeps closer.
What does conservation mean to you? How would you portray that in an image? Tie in the aspects of the rainforest and lemurs.