Saving the wild baobabs of Madagascar

Madagscar NGO Madagasikara Voakajy (MV) and Fauna & Flora International (FFI) are working with Malagasy ‘tree monitors’ to protect the endangered Grandidier’s baobab in the western Menabe region, in a project funded by the Global Trees Campaign.

Baobabs – sometimes known as the ‘upside town trees’- due to their unique shape-are threatened by fire, slash-and-burn farming, over-grazing and felling for its bark to make rope and baskets and other products.

One love, one tree

To control the degradation of baobab forests, MV is currently working with twenty ‘tree monitors’ who are responsible for the monitoring of individual baobab trees throughout the year.

“The monitors wear t-shirts that are printed with the image of the baobab to raise the profile of their work,” said Richard Jenkins, MV spokesperson. The t-shirts help give the local people pride about their home and the trees that are symbolic of their country.

MV has recently purchased 200 baobab seedlings and donated them to the community association for planting in March 2011. The monitoring project allows scientists to understand the extent of deforestation and damage to the trees, how they can save the damaged trees and how many they need to plant to replace felled trees to sustain a healthy population of the trees. In 2010, a total of 49 transects, each 1km in length were surveyed for baobabs.

The tree of Madagascar

Grandidier’s baobab is only found on the island of Madagascar. Six of the eight species of baobab can be found on the island. Grandidier’s baobab once grew in dry, deciduous forest. Now it grows in open, agricultural or degraded land. It has a huge cylindrical trunk that can grow up to three metres across and is covered with smooth, reddish-grey bark.

The Global Trees Campaign is a joint initiative between FFI and Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). The Global Trees Campaign is the only international campaign dedicated to saving threatened trees.

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