Madagascar, the oldest island in the world and the fourth-largest, is home to an astounding range of plant and animal life, most of which are found nowhere else on earth. Over the last two decades, however, the country has lost nearly one-fifth of its tree cover, which serves as the primary ecosystem for its rich biodiversity.
This year, the country is celebrating the 60th anniversary of their independence, and to celebrate, its president has pledged to plant 60 million new trees and restore the island to the green haven it once was.
For the planting season that runs until April, the administration wants 60 million seedlings to be planted across 40,000 ha (99,000 acres). To achieve that in time and ensure that the campaign reaches remote areas, the government plans to use drones and airplanes to drop balls of soil packed with seeds. The practice is expected to increase the chance of successful germination, while also eliminating the need for plastic bags for holding the seedlings.
For the national campaign, an estimated 100 million seeds have been rounded up by regional centers of the environmental ministry and its partners. The seedlings are being distributed free of cost to institutions and associations from government-run nurseries.
Among the 50 species that are available at the nurseries are exotic acacia, eucalyptus, various spice trees, and even fruit trees – the produce of which could be used for exports.
The greening campaign represents an ambitious government undertaking and is set to infuse a sense of strong awareness among the Malagasy people about the rich eco-heritage their homeland holds.