Between the cacao fields of northwest Madagascar and the vanilla of the northeast, a chain of rainforests bob along the highland interior. Tsaratanana Reserve, home to the country’s highest peak, has long been a key link in the chain, with abundant primary forest mostly undisturbed by human activity. Yet the reserve now faces threats on an unprecedented scale.

Primary and secondary forest in Tsaratanana Reserve is being cleared at a rapid rate, according to satellite data from the University of Maryland visualized on Global Forest Watch (GFW). Local officials say slash-and-burn agriculture for marijuana cultivation is to blame. Scientists say that if this deforestation continues, it will fragment the reserve’s well-connected forests and threaten the animals that live there — many of which are endemic, which means they’re found nowhere else in the world.

Easter Island’s colossal statues loom large—both literally and figuratively—in the popular imagination. The massive heads and torsos dot the landscape like stone sentinels, standing guard over the isle’s treeless, grassy expanse.

The statues have inspired widespread speculation, awe, and wonder for centuries. But the island, called Rapa Nui by its Indigenous people, has also captured the world’s imagination for an entirely different reason.

© 2020 George Wright Society


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