Ho Avy - Interactive Restoration

Project Ho Avy's mission is to curb excessive deforestation and reduce climate change impacts by promoting sustainable community resource management through inspirational environmental education, conservation stewardship, and sustainable and fair-trade economic development. The project has been active for two years.

Think of Madagascar: it's an Eden of rare life found no where else on Earth. Imagine yourself deep in the southern corner of the island with its magnificent coral reefs, geckos, chameleons, birds, lemurs and trees in the spiny forest scattered with the majestic bottle-shaped Baobabs.

Your family also lives here and is one of the 17 million Malagasy people living on less then 1$ per day.

You live in a simple hut made out of wood and reeds in a small isolated village, fishing or growing rice, corn, manioc, papaya and melons in the hot and very dry climate. Life is a struggle for survival and what you grow is just barely enough to feed yourself. Your only source of income comes from selling fish, growing corn, or harvesting the trees you cut from the forest to produce charcoal. Your local natural resources are the only thing that keeps you and your family alive.

Given that this is the way your grandfathers lived and the isolation you experience, it is impossible for you or anyone in your community to imagine how life could be different; yet you still find a way to remain happy and optimistic, open to the world around you and any new opportunities (positive or destructive) that arise.

The real underlying problems are out of your hands, you are clueless and essentially helpless against global external pressures that dictate local markets which directly affect your community. You understand from the elders in the village that the fields are not as productive as they once were, rains come less often, it is hotter for longer periods of the year and the corals are dying. What you are unaware of is the discrepancy in income you receive for the octopuses that you and your brothers harvested, versus what people in China are paying for them. Or that your greatest asset, the forest, is being cleared faster then anywhere else on Madagascar, just to be turned into corn that is fed to pigs on the island of Mauritius. You have no idea what the price of charcoal is in the capital yet you still wake up every morning before dawn to work the entire day out in forest for one bowl of rice per day.

You are definitely unaware and could not possibly imagine the magnitude of the consequences of what it means that your forest is earmarked by multinational corporations. You have never seen a picture of an entire forest cleared, and it is unfathomable that a single machine could drain all the precious ground water out from under your feet. Yes this could happen and already is in other parts of Madagascar, just so the sands under the forest that your ancestors have lived off of for thousands of years, can be mined out and turned into LCD screens and whitening products for linens and plastic products in China and North America.

The saddest part is that you can't stop it, because you have no education about these things, and you don't have opportunities to do anything different so you don't think about it.

As a result, you go about life as it is and keep harvesting your resources, and so do your neighbors and their growing families. Your entire community has a tremendous knowledge about the forest and its medicinal values. Your happiness and pride is derived from these beautiful natural connections to the land and the ocean. But you keep hearing from the elders, that the rising temperature and shorter rainy season is exacerbating the struggle for survival. No one really foresees that the local resources are very limited when continuously depleted and that they need thoughtful attention to be conserved and restored for future generations. These pressures have never existed before and no one has any new information about how to reverse these unsustainable cycles.

Unfortunately, socioeconomic pressures are driving rampant deforestation, which threatens these unique environments and the people who are completely dependent on them for survival. The most extensive deforestation takes place in arid southwestern Madagascar, leading to rapid rates of climate change, i.e., prolonged droughts, threatening the lives of more than 250,000 Malagasy children.

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