It was warm and sunny early in the morning on Friday 17 January 2020. Soon after 8 o’clock a small group of members from Mitsinjo and other organisations gathered to make preparations for the day’s event. At first, a banner was put up at the beginning of the road leading to Farahevitra to show the way. Next, we proceeded to the actual venue. An area had been cleared for tree planting in Mitsinjo’s forest close to the Farahevitra tree nursery. More banners were unfurled on the border of the glade and a sign presented by Ambatovy was erected as a memory of this day.
Little by little, participants began to assemble to wait for the starting of the action. Alliance Voahary Gasy, the platform of civil society organisations working for the Malagasy environment, had asked regional member organisations to celebrate with it the 10 years of AVG’s existence. In addition to Mitsinjo, members from GERP – Groupe d’étude et de recherche sur les primates de Madagascar, ASITY, SAF FJKM, ANAE – Association Nationale d’Actions Environnementales and ACCE arrived. Mitsinjo, for their turn, had invited V.O.I.M.M.A and Projects Abroad Madagascar who operate in Andasibe. In total, 73 people participated in the event.
When all had come, the real business started. The party spread out around the clearing to search places for the saplings. Members of Mitsinjo assisted in the digging of holes and carried seedlings to other planters. The participants were so industrious that more seedlings had to be brought from the nursery. Soon they were moving in chain from Mitsinjo’s car to the planters. After the work was finished, 500 endemic trees had been given a new habitat. As member organisation of Alliance Voahary Gasy, Mitsinjo will take care of the follow-up and maintenance of their growth.
The event was not arranged only to dignify the work AVG has done since 2009. It was also an expression of support to the national reforestation campaign that was officially launched on 19 January 2020. President Andry Rajoelina has set the target of planting 60 million trees by 26 June 2020 to mark the 60th anniversary of Madagascar’s independence and he has encouraged all citizens to do their share for the protection of the environment. This campaign is part of an ambitious reforestation program declared by Rajoelina in 2019. It aims at planting trees and seeds across 40 000 hectares annually during five years. The purpose is – no more, no less – to make Madagascar a green island again. Ndranto Razakamanarina, President of Alliance Voahary Gasy, referred to this goal in his closing speech noting it was praiseworthy. He further pointed out that the existing laws should be applied in order to prevent forests from being cleared, as Madagascar is losing every year 100 000 hectares of natural forest. Complementary measures of sustainable development are also required. They include, among other things, the implementation of concrete activities that guarantee the socioeconomic development of the southern parts of Madagascar to avoid migration.
The weather favoured the gathering. The morning was nice and warm, even hot. The sun was still shining at noon, when the participants were preparing to leave, but a half an hour later a thunder storm already broke out and it began to rain heavily. The newly planted seedlings got their first watering. One could say that the timing was perfect.
Photos: Tianasoa RATOLOJANAHARY, Ulla Aitakangas