Saving a forest?


Saviors of the Mandena forest?

The hands belong to Johny Rabenantoandro, director of biodiversity and rehabilitation for Rio Tinto’s mine in southern Madagascar. Yes, you read that right. A mine, with a director of biodiversity.

Much of the degraded Mandena — a littoral forest that grows in sand — is being cleared as the corporation mines ilmenite, a compound containing titanium dioxide and zircon. Granted, the forest that is being destroyed is not the vaunted forest of yesteryear, but mostly a thicket of brush and small trees; loggers in the past decade have already had their way with it.

The company, as part of its deal with the government to secure mining rights to the sands containing titanium dioxide, has a grand plan to replant and restore the forest. To that end, a small, more pristine section has been conserved and hundreds of seeds are being banked.

Hundreds more are being planted now in a nursery that covers about half a football field, in order to grow the seedlings that will be used in the attempt to replant the forest.

I’m now editing photos and transcribing hours of tape from the Madagascar days, and simply liked the above photo.

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