Madagascar is a biodiversity treasure trove, hosting 5% of all global biodiversity. About 80% of the species of plants and animals – many unique to Madagascar – occur in forests. This rich biodiversity is threatened by human activities, especially slash and burn agriculture. Land degradation is a serious problem for Malagasy people, as their livelihoods are highly dependent on agriculture.  

Our work in support of the Hay Tao project includes developing a data portal and offering training in the use of various monitoring tools, such as WRI’s Forest Watcher app, which allows easy off-line access to Global Forest Watch data. The Madagascar team is also adapting global forest monitoring teams to Madagascar’s unique forest types. 

Without such adaptation, global tools tend to over-estimate the extent of humid forests, under-estimate the extent of dry forests, and simply overlook spiny forests, a unique ecoregion in the southwest of Madagascar found on poor soil substrates with low, erratic winter rainfall. The spiny forests have a high proportion of endemic plant species.