Finance to protect forests must meet local needs: experts

28 May 2015

BARCELONA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Madagascar has 7 million hectares of rainforest under protection as of this month, but stopping the poor people who live near those areas from illegally cutting down rosewood trees remains a challenge.

"Most... say we are spending a lot of money to protect the environment instead of spending money to help them find something to eat," said Ralava Beboarimisa, the southeast African island nation's environment minister.

"One of the challenges in Madagascar is to protect the forests, and to change the habits of the people and to help them to fight against poverty."

Madagascar has recently signed forest carbon deals with some large non-governmental groups, including Conservation International, and half of the revenues from the credits generated will go to helping local communities find new ways of making a living, Beboarimisa said.

Under such deals, a price is put on every ton of carbon stored in protected trees, and those avoided emissions are sold to companies or other buyers in lieu of them reducing their own emissions.

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