Dry and moist forests represent a major proportion of the natural habitat, to which we also add savannah and grass, and to a much lesser extent wetlands and mangrove. Such diversified natural habitat is home for an inimitable and worldwide recognized biological diversity. The tropical forests of the coastal zone and the lowland valleys produce the most valuable and useful trees, such as ebony, rosewood(palissandre), the raffia palm, and mangroves, as well as wild rubber vines. The valuable species become less fewer and less accessible on the mountainous regions of the high plateau which today are almost bare of trees. Figure 2. Annual Change of Forest Extent (%)
The loss in forest extent, which is by itself an environmental threat, is accompanied by an irremediable and tragic loss in biological diversity that could cost Madagascar its fame for being a natural museum for the entire planet. In fact, only 1 out of 20 species identified in the spiny desert of the Malagasy south can be found anywhere else on earth. 80% of the flora, more than half of the birds, and 95% of Madagascar's reptiles survived only on this land. Many species had already expired - the monster-bird aepyornis, pygmy hippos, giant lemurs, and others -, wiped out by climatic change or by humankind (Mittermeier, 1988). Actually, Madagascar is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as one of the few areas for priority action in terms of genetic resource preservation (WRM, 1990). THROUGH A FAMILY OF TRANSITIONS POLITICAL TRANSITION Madagascar knew different forms of political regimes throughout its history, which might have played a significant role in the local population's worldview (among all, the relation with the "land" and its uses). These different political regimes may as well have their own impact on the deforestation process by introducing technological and/or policy changes in the land exploitation. Distinct landmarks can be considered: (I) the Pre-colonial period , until 1896; (ii) the Colonial period , from 1896 to 1960; (iii) the Io Republique, from 1960 to 1972; (iv) the IIo Republique, from 1975 to 1992; (v) the IIIo Republique, since 1992. On an other hand, this section also aims to set the historical background necessary to understand the actual socio-economic situation. The Pre-Colonial Period: The different regions of Madagascar were previously covered by a mosaic of small kingdoms. In addition to hunting and gathering, the original population cleared land for cultivation of yam, taro, and arrowroot, by practicing the slash-and-burn agriculture locally called tavy. Inundated rice (paddy) and banana cultivation came later, brought by other flows of immigrants from the far-eastern countries. By the 17th century, a monarch issued from the Afro-Indonesian "Merina" of the central plateau started an unification of the country under one central leadership. His conquests came along with a surge of population and a corresponding expansion of rice fields. Increased agricultural production was one of the King's major goals. Public labor was used for the building of roads, bridges, and dikes (Thompson & Adloff, 1965). Tavy technology spread throughout Madagascar, aggravating the deforestation that already at that time marked the central plateau, and threatening the east and west regions. On areas that were burned over and then abandoned after several years of producing crops, a secondary forest called savoka had grown up. Since now, cattle are still pastured on the periodically burnt prairies of lean grass. For all practical purposes, land was owned by those who cultivated it and forests were held to be communal property. The 18th and the 19th centuries in Madagascar were characterized by different attempts to build a state, by an ascent of different political units in the island, and by growing contact with the European dominated international system (Covell, 1987). The foreign parties, mostly British and French, looked for influences over the country. New technology was introduced with the ambitions of the settlers to launch various industrial plantations, which would change further more the island's natural profile. Madagascar was then playing a role in the international slaves trade and also shipped beef, rice, corn, and even salt for the survival of neighbor islands. The latter half of the 19th century saw the development of more intense interactions within the island, when the Merina Empire tried to extend its boundaries and when the other groups either resisted or were absorbed. Also, the first Franco-Malagasy war broke in 1883 principally because of conflicts over lands property. It ended with important Malagasy concessions in 1885. In 1896, after another war of conquest, the French abolished the Merina monarchy and declared a protectorate. The reigning Queen was exiled, and a formal law of annexation added Madagascar to France's African colonies. The Colonial Period: Soon after the conquest, effective protection of Madagascar's forests was conducted by the French rulers by creating a Forestry Service and by training local people to staff it. At the same time, however, they indirectly promoted the devastation of wooded land by granting to French settlers and to companies many concessions containing some of the most valuable tree species for exploitation. Moreover, lands were appropriated by settlers for the production of cash crops. Large, medium and small-scale plantations were created but were mostly profitable for large commercial companies and foreign settlers. The supposedly French's civilizing mission was not entirely justified since the Malagasy monarchy had been, after all, recognized internationally and had conducted its diplomatic concourse with dignity (Allen, 1995). But, Madagascar was then removed from international intercourse and could maintain only the connections established under French authority. Internally, this period was punctuated by patriotic revolts and a relative anarchy. The local population's mobilization under any strategy for rural development set up by the colonial rulers was never entirely gained. Peasant resistance to the colonial system took many forms, overt or not. The role of inertia as passive resistance, the role of maintaining newly illegal practices such as cattle-raiding and hills-slope culture, and the retreat into indigenous cultural values all had an element of resistance to them (Feeley-Harnick, 1984). To involve an unwilling population, forced labor was instituted in 1897 and retained until 1946. The First Republic: After the previous period of unsuccessful revolts, Madagascar knew a peaceful access to independence in June, 1960. However, the First Republic is also a neo-colonial regime in which the power was just turned to a selected elite prepared by the departing colonial power. Continued dependence on France in economic affairs and external policy were traded for the rewards of local political office (Covell, 1987). The agricultural policy was as well deficient. Production, both of rice and of cash crops, stagnated. The same forms of coercion and exhortation were employed to produce coffee, vanilla, cloves, or cotton for the national economy, and taxes for the state. Nethertheless, an attempt was made to contain the threatening natural erosion by implementing a program of reforestation. A new Forestry Code was drafted, which would penalize more severely than before those practicing tavy. But once more, the expected success did not take place due to a missing adhesion of the population to the established program. The Second Republic: The events that led to the birth of the Second Republic were a mixture of regime collapse, popular uprising involving different groups and social classes, and military coup. Both foreign and domestic policy options were established after the state structure and ideological principles were synthesized. Democratic Madagascar was to adopt central planning, indoctrination of the institutions for the progressist movement, and external alignment with anticapitalist countries. But this was without considering two main obstacles: the need for external capital and the profound Malagasy distrust of the central state authority. The real economic battle is once more taken over by fruitless ideological slogans. Precisely, the Department of Agriculture had been held responsible for virtually systematic disincentives to rural production (Allen, 1995). Rural aspirations beyond subsistence were not even considered by a self-serving corps of untrained local administrators. Such situation provoked an abandonment of the already overexploited piece of land to progressive degradation. On the international level, Madagascar is showing a clear will to remedy the tragedy. In early 1990, in developing countries, Madagascar was among the first respondents to the World Bank's call for action to preserve the environment (Ravel, 1989). A public association was created to manage 50 protected areas. Besides, a tourist program implemented by the UNESCO and incorporated into a five-year plan includes the selection of 50 other "discovery" sites and 3 coastal resorts. The Third Republic: Under a new constitution adopted in August 1992, Madagascar is converted from a socialist to a liberal democratic state with guarantees for free enterprise and private property, as well as the security of foreign investment and protection of the environment. The "decentralized administrations" are allowed part of the power and have also to designate the two-thirds of participants at the Senate. The constitution also gives them participation in ensuring local security and administration, environmental protection, social welfare, and the overall development of their respective territories. They will have taxing powers (Allen, 1995). SOCIAL TRANSITION Nationwide, each one of the different "historical eras" gives birth to a typical form of society, characterized by different value(s). It seems to be possible to assess, for each period, a predominant culture and form of education which affect somehow the social behavior. The changes in the population settlements also affect the land uses, as well as their management. The Pre-Independence Period: The settlement of the primitive population in Madagascar still remains enigmatic. Tribal distinctions are inevitable between peoples of different origins and from multiple crossbreedings. Nowhere in Madagascar does there exist a pure racial type, and even the broad classification of the coastal peoples as Negroid and of the inhabitants of the high plateau as Asian is misleading. This pre-independence period can be characterized by a mobility of most of the tribes, which is responsible to a large extent for their social and economical evolution. A theoretical model is proposed, according to which the earliest migrants were first wandering along the coastal lands before reaching the central plateau, where they soon started cutting down the existing forest to grow rice (Thompson & Adloff, 1965). After subsequent wars, and by the 14th century, the different groups crystallized into tribes and formed kingdoms. But the population continued to be mobile, depending on the outcomes of internal war. Later, with the expansion of the Merina (central plateau tribe) kingdom, colonization of "empty" lands were encouraged. The wrong agricultural practice of tavy was also spreading. During the middle of late 19th century, a number of French-speaking settlers came to Madagascar, where they installed themselves as planters or traders. These settlers, mostly from the Mascarene Islands, in turn cleared the wooded areas to develop export crops (vanilla, cloves, coffee, pepper) and a money economy which further stimulated Malagasy migrations. In fact, with the institution of forced labor and the payment of taxes in money, the local population was compelled either to grow cash crops or to earn wages as laborers out of their regions in colonial concessions. But also, some other people migrated in some remote places in order to escape from these institutional obligations. Such mobility as a way of living had induced both advantages and disadvantages for the country. On the credit side, we can cite the development of many previously neglected or uninhabited regions, the lifestyle improvement of tribes previously isolated from outside world, and the help for famine areas to solve an overpopulation. On the debit side, the consequences are deeper. Internal migration had displaced the traditional attachment to the land, which in turn had undermined subsequent official programs for rural development because of lack of involvement from the population. In fact, those who were staying to plant their own lots earned obviously less than those who migrated. For the local peasant, it seemed to be out of reach to experiment bigger area than that he was used to. The great majority of the local population still practiced an agriculture of subsistence, without benefiting from any new technology introduced by the settlers. In the worst case, there was an abandonment of any agricultural activity in favor of non-lasting pecuniary trades, leaving the land and exposing it to natural erosion. The Post-Independence Period: The most significant changes result from the development of education. The first educational system was installed by the British missionaries during the pre-colonial period; they developed the written form of the native language, using the Latin alphabet, and introduced the printing press. The linguistic unity was then reinforced. But, despite many advantages, efforts were concentrated only on privileged classes - royal Court and upper-class children -. During the colonial period, education was mostly used to train the assistants for the Administration and to maintain a different status between rulers and population. Figure 3 shows the percentage in gross primary school enrolllment between 1960 and 1993. Figure 3. Gross Primary School Enrollment (%)
As can be seen, although the access to education was promoted at the independence, the difference between gender in 1960 was still noticeable. This difference is essentially due to the inherited conception. Males are more likely to occupy an administrative position to replace the colonizer, while females are viewed to help in the agriculture of subsistence or into domestic work. Education is associated to a source of wealth and prestige, fitting more to a "head of the family", whereas manual work is socially demeaning and financially unrewarding. The educational policy during the 2nd Republic(after 1975) has shifted to promote democratization. An appreciable increase of the primary school enrollment can be observed in both sexes. On an other hand, adult literacy is promoted to vehicle easily ideological messages. Figure 4 shows the development of adult literacy starting with an average of 50% for both sexes in 1970 to 80% in 1990. Figure 4. Adult Literacy (%).
Such relative improvement in education level has both advantages and disadvantages. It has primarily facilitated the vulgarizing of public health services, thus allowing a rise of the life standings. Nethertheless, it has also induced for both parents and children an attraction towards the urban areas, where most of the time they survive hardly, rather swelling the proportion of urban proletariat. This results into a decrease in available agricultural labor, and into a disinterest in any farming-related activities. ECONOMIC TRANSITION This section does not intend to present a detailed analysis of the national economy for each considered period. Instead, only those facts and situations relating to or influencing the deforestation will be emphasized. The Pre-Independence Period: Madagascar's economy was damaged by the French impositions requested after the conquest, and by the inability to pay for its imports during the world depression of the 1870s. But it had structural weaknesses as well. Roads construction were neglected for fear of facilitating foreign invasion. Maritime industry, coast guard, or merchant marine never developed. During the Colonial Period, French economic policy was mostly profitable for the two groups promoting the colonization of the island: the large commercial companies and prospective creole settlers from Mascarene Islands. This period was characterized by a shift to a money economy. The profits then came mostly from trade rather than production. The economic was all but monopolized by French wholesale traders and navigation companies, whereas retail commerce was taken over by Asians alien. The Post-Independence Period: Since 1960, the national leaders have then been trying to lay the bases for a genuinely malagasy economy without destroying the existing economic structure or abruptly ending Madagascar's financial and commercial dependence on France. Following the examples of newly independent countries throughout Africa, the Malagasy state initiated infrastructure development, civic service to replace the forced labor system, rural animation, and limited import substitution. However, Madagascar's economy has always been relying on agriculture but opportunities for sustained economical growth still remain limited, since the country is poorly linked by roads or other communications and poorly served by its institutions of education, health, and law enforcement. Agriculture itself is dominated by rice which is the main food crop and which, with cattle, is the only agricultural product traded within the island. The other important agricultural products are all export crops (coffee, vanilla, sugar, cloves). Figure 5 indicates the distribution of the Gross Domestic Product per sector for the period between 1970 and 1993: (Data source: WRD, 1996) Figure 5. Distribution of GDP per Sector (in %).
As shown by the figure, an increase in the allocation for agriculture can be registered after the fall of the 1st Republic, in 1974. Such governmental decision is reflected in the increase of irrigated and arable lands, as well as that of permanent cropland. However, the effects of such changes do not reach the rural population composed mostly of small farmers and a large gap can still be noticed between modern and subsistence economics. About 1.5 million widely scattered farms occupy some 80% of the active population but create only 43% of the country's wealth. Most of these farms are smallholds, 2 ha in average size, with limited adaptability. The following figure 6 shows the variation of GNP per Capita for the period between 1970 and 1993: Figure 6. GNP per Capita (current US$).
The graph indicates that a peak was reached in 1980 before the GNP per capita began to decrease until the early 1990s. An erroneous economical strategy applied during the 2nd Republic could also have contributed to this unexpected situation. In fact, considering direct foreign investment as a threat to independence, the country started borrowing to implement many "investments without constraint". This already costly capital in turn allowed an expanding bureaucracy to launch and manage large but ultimately failing parastatal projects. Agricultural output was neglected in favor of capital-intensive agro-industrial projects that did not produce and social programs that did not improve life standing. By the early 1980s, an overvalued currency depressed exports dramatically, and the external debt had soared to crisis level (Allen 1995). The 3rd Republic thus inherited a condition of political uncertainty, administrative inefficiency, and export stagnation that continue to hinder new investments and commercial transactions. DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSITION Speculations are made to trace the original population of Madagascar as early as AD 400 and no later than AD 900. Of course, the most important changes can only be noticed for the recent history, due to the lack of valuable data. However, the considerable change in population density is one of the principal factor of deforestation as considered later within this section. Figure 7 shows the trends in crude birth and death rates for each period of five years starting from 1950 to 2050: Figure 7. Curde Birth and Death Rates.
A sudden increase of the population was registered from the late 1940s. As revealed by this figure, such phenomenon can be ascribed more to a decline in death rate rather than to a rise in birthrate. It was due to a relative rise in local living standards but also, primarily, to the larger funds allocated to the public health service. An epidemiological transition occurred. Endemic diseases such as Malaria which had been devastating in effect was then mitigated. Family planning, vulgarized during the 2nd Republic, is probably the main cause of the drop in birth rate from the year 1985. The steady increase of the population has indirectly imposed a burden on the country's natural environment. As cited by an analyst, "The system of environmental exploitation typical of Malagasy societies... engendered a vicious cycle of self-destruction of the ecosystem. In fact, the poorer the soil, the rarer the vegetation will be; this entails weaker protection against erosion from water run-off.... The peasants, choosing to live on the productive surfaces which decrease permanently and fail to insure the subsistence of a growing population, thus tend to leave the rural area to join the urban proletariat." (Ramahatra, 1989). The Pre-Independence Period: The possible origins of the Malagasy population are still greatly debated among scholars, whether Asian or African sources are the most important. The answer seems to favor a synthesis of the two. For a millennium, Madagascar has been a demographic melting pot in the Indian Ocean, with the interpenetrating of migrant people from Southeast and South Asia, East Africans, and subsequently Arabs and Europeans. Nowadays, physical and linguistic evidence verify both the Indonesian and African origins of the Malagasy population. Attempts were made to estimate Madagascar's population. In 1900, the first census based on the number of taxpayers gave a figure of 2.5 million. During the last decade of the Colonial era, from 1950 to 1960, the island's population increased at the rate of 2.3% per year and the total attaining 5.3 million at the end of this period. Figure 8 shows the trends of the total population, along with the distribution into rural vs urban areas, for the period starting in 1950 to the year 2025. Figure 8. Total Population Distribution (x 1000).
As shown by Figure 8, the great majority of the population has always occupied the rural country where they lived as farmers and herders in scattered villages situated mostly in the fertile, well-watered lowlands and valleys. Towns were either administrative centers or markets. The Post-Independence Period: We can notice an early stage of urban transition, starting from the 1980s Not revealed by this graph however, the growth has not been spread evenly throughout the country; some areas are still uninhabited, whereas some regions are overpopulated to the extent that their inhabitants are reduced to very low living standards. On the island as a whole, 60% of the population are concentrated in 20% of the total area. The existence of the uninhabited areas, along with the migratory habits of the Malagasy tribes, has favored the practice of shifting agriculture. Herders as well as farmers burn over vast areas of woodlands and grasslands every year to fertilize the soil. After a few seasons, the soil is exhausted and they move on to other regions, where the same process is repeated. The resulting destruction of trees and vegetation cover has led to widespread erosion. CONCLUSION & PROPOSITIONS In the case of Madagascar, the phenomenon of deforestation does not follow the classical process in which modernization is incriminated with all its backslides. In fact, since the early times in the country's history, the practice of tavy technology - the local form of slash-and-burn agriculture - has always been worsening the plague. Fires are set systematically to a million hectares of land each year in order to provide pasture for cattle, ashen topsoil for rice, charcoal for urban kitchens, wastelands for hunters and poachers, and scorched fields of protest for angry peasants. Also, among the wrong practices are sharecropping and the system of land tenure. Demographic density has forced an extension of farming to marginally fertile land. On the other hand, the less mobile groups prefer to grow rice perilously on familiar mountaintops rather than move to distant valleys. Thus, in addition to risk of erosion, these pressures have reduced the time allotted to the soil to naturally regenerate (Jolly, 1980). Different attempts were made to at least mitigate this real tragedy. Recently, by the end of the 2nd Republic, environmental protection started to be institutionalized. First, however, the permanent problem inherited by the successive governments after the independence has rather been deeply psychological. The Malagasy farmers have most of the time been reticent to accept new technology or other innovative techniques. Such attitude results from the passive resistance inherited from the colonial period, and appears as an intuitive defense against any regulation which is always felt as oppressive. Any directive emanating from the government is viewed as a privation of freedom, or as a tool for "minority rulers" to take advantage of the population. The officials are always considered to disregard the real interests. How then to adopt a policy which will gain the population's adhesion ? Second, a search for identity can be noticed, which is expressed in the different forms of resistance, overt or not. The national identity has for a long time been blocked at a stage prior to its full expression, and the public opinion was manipulated by the colonization towards a self-rejection. Third, any social and individual initiative have been inhibited by a permanent frustration. The remedy to this particular situation was not and will not be found in the implementation of any kind of regulations. In fact, different policies had been "tried" since the pre-colonial period until recently in the agreement signed concurrently with the World Bank and The World Wild Fund. But, the adopted solutions should imply the needed social involvement through a complete adhesion, as well as a strong social education and information of the local population. In this very perspective, my proposition consists of involving the private sector into a national program of "integrated patrimony management", run with foreign investments and comprising the safeguard of natural environment, local arts and crafts, and cultural legacy. Foreign investments are fundamental, due to the weakness of the national economy and its inability to sustain any large and extended program. The private sector will bring the necessary rigor and discipline. Practically, a private and apolitical association will be legalized to conduct the project. Membership will be accepted by paying an adequately small annual fee and a massive participation will be encouraged by providing incentives such as the following for instance: reduced entrance fees to the managed parks and monuments, or to cultural festivities; reduced fees for organized trips; returned funds to the involved local communities to finance local projects of health and sanitation. Regulations reinforced within the freely enrolled members of such private association are more easily accepted. The government will only have the limited role of "ray aman-dreny"(local term for natural parents) perceived as advisers and providers rather than directing body. Corruption will be more easily contained than through the regular and heavy bureaucracy inherited from the colonial system. Furthermore, to explore rationally the great diversity of natural and human resources of the country, Madagascar will be divided into three zones - North, Center, and South - about the same size and different from any actual administrative boundaries. Each zone will develop three departments respectively in charge of the natural environment, arts and crafts, and culture. The regional department will in turn have to report to a centralized organ responsible for any foreign relations and coordinating the different activities at the national level. For more efficient management, the project will be installed progressively according to the following steps: organization and staffing, down to the regional level; assessment and inventory of each regional "patrimony"; communication, sensitizing, and information of the population; initiation and recruiting of membership; development of the entire project. It is expected, through the management of cultural patrimony, to reinforce the national unification under a linguistic unity, to re-establish the lost identity resulting from the colonization, to build the sense of unity which is needed to reach any subsequent common goal formulated into a national program. Also, the promotion of the artistic patrimony will help to rebuilt the self-esteem, or the self-confidence of the population in its values and own efforts, and to give the population the meaning of a rewarding work which will develop its initiatives. Finally, these two other departments will support that in charge of the natural environment in sensitizing the population about the particularity of the country's natural diversity, in conserving the remaining forest ecosystems, in promoting agroforestry and reforestation. References ALLEN Philip M. Madagascar: Conflicts of Authority in the Great Island Westview Press inc., Boulder, Colorado, 1995. COVELL Maureen Madagascar: Politics, Economics, and Society Frances Pinter Ltd, London, 1987. FEELEY-HARNICK G. The Political Economy of Death: Communication and Change in Malagasy Colonial History in American Ethnologist, 1984, vol. 11, pp 1-19. JOLLY Alison A World Like Our Own: Man and Nature in Madagascar Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1980. MITTERMEIER Russell A. Strange and Wonderful Madagascar in International Wildlife, July-August 1988, pp 4-13. RAMAHATRA Olivier Madagascar: une conomie en phase d'ajustement Harmattan, Paris, 1989 RAVEL Georges IMF Survey in March s Tropicaux M diterran ens, no. 2269, May 5, 1989, pp 1224-5. THOMPSON V. & ADLOFF R. The Malagasy Republic Stanford University Press, California, 1965. WRD - World Resources Database - Database 1995-1996. WRM - World Rainforest Movement - Rainforest Destruction: Causes, Effects & False Solutions Jutaprint, Malaysia, 1990.
Map. Global Total Forest--Deforestation, 1990.