Erosion Control March/April 2017 : Page 12

90% of its original forest, due in large part to tavy , a traditional slash-and-burn agricultural technique. Contribut-ing to this loss of protective vegetative cover is the growth of cattle herding, widespread coffee plantations, and a reliance by the local people on char-coal for cooking. It is estimated that between 1950 and 2000, 40% of the island’s original forest cover was lost through illicit and state-sanctioned harvesting of precious woods within Madagascar’s national parks. Some estimates are that all of the island’s rainforests—with the exception of those in protected areas and those in extremely steep, mountain-ous areas—will be gone by 2025. Perhaps the photos on pages 10 and 11 will illustrate the stream and sedimentation point. Of course with the loss of vegetation comes the loss “C’mon, you wouldn’t eat me, would you? Go ahead, pull my finger.” of wildlife habitat, and in Madagascar, that means fewer lemurs. Scientist say that a number of giant lemur species have vanished since human settlers arrived on the island over 2,000 years ago. Other smaller species of lemurs have become extinct as the human population has grown, putting more pressure on the animals’ habitats, and as Malagasy table fare turns in despera-tion toward Lemuroidea . There are sim-ply too many humans and the place—in my observation—reached its carrying capacity long ago. We Proceed Onward In September 2005, I found myself on my knees in a North Dakota cornfield, honoring history. It was the second of a three-year expedition to aerially retrace the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail dur-ing the nation’s bicentennial celebra-tion. I was the leader of 40 volunteers: pilots, scientists, and some—like myself—who were both. The overall objective of our “Flight of Discovery” was to use current technology (aviation and science) to compare present-day cultural, environmental, and anthro-pological resources to the 200-year-old historical record contained in journals, correspondence, notes, and samples assembled from 1804 to 1806 by the Corps of Discovery. But these sorts of adventures take on a purpose all to themselves and develop a direction that can’t be compassed at the beginning of the journey. Just ask Meri-wether Lewis, who found neither the Northwest Passage nor the Great River of the West, but succeeded in opening Visit us at IECA Booth #301 For related articles: WWW.EROSIONCONTROL.COM 12 EROSION CONTROL


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