SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF THE MADAGASCAR TROPICAL RAINFOREST, IDENTIFYING GAPS THAT CAN BE FILLED BY AN

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1 SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF THE MADAGASCAR TROPICAL RAINFOREST, IDENTIFYING GAPS THAT CAN BE FILLED BY AN INTERGRATED WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT APPROACH By: Nokuthula F. Dlamini University of Dar-es-salaam Faculty of Civil Engineering and the Built Environment Department of Water Resources Engineering P.O. Box Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania Telephone Fax ABSTRACT This paper aims at identifying the missing information and gaps that can be filled by adopting an Intergrated water resources management approach in maintaining the sustainable utilisation of the Madagascar Tropical Rainforest ecosystems. The crucial issues addressed, are the impacts of the depletion forests ecosystem on climate, hydrological cycle, economy and health of the people. The paper has identified information gaps on the following areas: quantified data on the species diversity and richness of the ecosystem. Data on the medicinal value of the species and its relation to the health of the people, also the quantified economic data of the species in the ecosystem and also gaps on quantified data on the impact of ecosystem depletion on climate change 1

2 and the entire hydrological cycle. Data on forest depletion rates will assist in modeling climate and hydrological changes. This will lead to proper information for establishing the impacts of the ecosystem depletion on human activities, in particular socio-economic activities and for now and for future generations. If IWRM incorporates such information on its management programme for such a valuable and complex ecosystem, this would lead not only to the ecosystem integrity but also to sustainable water resources management and economic sustainability and the entire health of the people. It wouldl also enable establishment of sound precautions, mitigations, remedial actions and policies for the proper management and sustainability of this valuable ecosystem. It would also lead to a state of agreement on the nature of the problem by the stakeholders, environment managers, and policy makers since reliable and quantified data is a key to understanding for proper management of the ecosystems. Moreover, intergrated water resources management has been identified as a useful tool in integrating the already existing data and unifying different disciplines with a common goal of attaining sustainable use of the Madagascar rainforest ecosystem. INTRODUCTION The Tropical rainforests lie in the tropics. Rainforests are subject to heavy rainfall rising air that loses its moisture through frequent rainstorms. In this region, sunlight strikes the earth at roughly a 90 0 angle resulting in intense solar energy (Mobot, 2003). This consistent sunlight provides the essential energy necessary to power the forest via photosynthesis; hence its productivity is high, making the Tropical rainforests to have incredibly rich ecosystems, which play a significant role in the basic functioning of the 2

3 planet, including the hydrological cycle and other Earth cycles. The Tropical rainforest ecosystems are complex and complicated hence reliable and comprehensive data is difficult to acquire, Intergrated Water Resources Management approach can always assist in integrating and forming a comprehensive approach to the management of the Tropical rainforest services and cycles (Mongabay, 2005). Such services may include its food and medicinal species, economic services, hydrological cycle balances, climate modification etc. According to Myers (1990), sustainability problems facing water managers and policy makers today entail the lack of precise, complete and accurate data in addressing water resources management issues, in some instances data is not available at all. This problem has been identified in the issue of addressing the environmental impacts, in particular climate change, hydrological cycle imbalance, economic and health impacts of the Tropical rainforests ecosystems depletion (O`riordan, 2000). This paper aims at identifying the missing information and gaps that could be filled by adopting an Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) approach in addressing the impacts of the depletion of the Madagascar Tropical rainforests ecosystems on climate change, hydrological cycle, economy and health of the people. The paper will start by giving an overview of the Tropical rainforests; it will then look at the problems related to the Madagascar Tropical rainforest ecosystems, the species diversity, medicinal value, its economic value and the impact of the Madagascar forest depletion on climate change and the hydrological cycle. The impact of the forest depletion on human activities will also be briefly discussed. This will go hand in hand with identifying the missing information on each of these issues after which a summery of findings of the information 3

4 gaps will be produced. It will conclude by proposing the role of an intergrated water resources management approach in filling the missing information for the sustainability of the ecosystem. PROBLEM STATEMENT Estimates reflect an extinction of 90% of the Madagascar rainforest ecosystem species (Mobot, 2003). Mobots` report further states that, human activities play a major role in the rainforests biodiversity disturbances, such activities have lead to the extinction of approximately to species per annum. These activities include agricultural practices, which have been identified as having a direct impact on the maintenance or loss of biodiversity. According to the Eurosat Report (1999), urbanization and industrialization has claimed a lot of the forested area, for its structures, roads, railways, communication networks and other developments. Land clearance for such activities has led to habitats and species loss. It has been estimated that about 32,300 ha of forest disappear from the earth each day. Another 32,300 ha of forest are degraded; as a result, the Earth loses as many as several hundreds of species to extinction (Jackson, 2000). The extinction and burning of the forests for man s activities has contributed to carbon dioxide emissions, which intensify the problem of global warming and climate change hence, imbalances in the hydrological cycle for example, floods and droughts are severely affecting the planet (Kremen, 2002). 4

5 The problem is worsened by the shortage, inconsistence, incomplete and imprecise data about the extinction of species together with its impacts on the environment and people at large (Myers, 1997). These problems have led to failure for establishing precise impacts of the forest depletion on the economy, health, climate change, hydrological cycle and other related impacts. The available estimates for these impacts are either incomplete or incorrect, and most of the data has not been documented by sciences, (Christie, 2002). The question therefore becomes, how can the impacts be addressed if data availability and accuracy is not addressed? AIM This paper aims at identifying the missing information and gaps that can be filled by adopting an Integrated water resources management approach (IWRM) in maintaining the sustainable utilisation of the Madagascar Tropical rainforest ecosystem, this will be done by reviewing the existing literature. SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES The paper will identify the available information on the Madagascar rainforest species diversity and identify the missing Information on the species diversity. It will establish the missing information on the medicinal value of the ecosystem species and its relation to the people s health. It will establish the missing information in the economic value of the ecosystem and review other impacts due to man s activities. 5

6 It will identify the missing data necessary for modeling the impact of rainforest depletion on climate change and the hydrological cycle and identify the information gap in linking mans activities and impacts of the ecosystem depletion. It will propose the role of an intergrated water resources management in filling the information gaps. LITERATURE REVIEW The Tropical Rain Rainforests are home to at least 50% of the world's species, species diversity / richness and endemic species are high in the forests, In addition, rainforests help to maintain the worlds` climate by regulating atmospheric gases and stabilising rainfall, protect against desertification, and provide numerous other ecological functions (Jackson, 2000). According to Kremen (2002), the Madagascar rainforest is unique and more critical because of its endemic species such as the primates, which consist entirely of lemurs, most of which are unusual primates on earth, and they range from the mouse lemur, which is the smallest, to the indri, which is the largest. This Island has been separated from the African mainland for more than 2 million years ago, if it was ever connected, and most of the plant and animal species found there have evolved in isolation and are unique to this Island. The situation is much the same of much other organisms in Madagascar. Seven of the eight carnivores species found there are endemic, the species include the 29 tenrecs, 106 birds, 233 reptiles, 142 frogs and many other endemic species, (Mongabay, 2005) 6

7 Productivity of the tropical rainforests According to Mobot (2003), the productivity of the rainforests is reason enough to conserve the rainforests in order to maintain its vast diversity. The tropical rainforests are highly productive in terms of both the number of species and rate of production. The tropical climatic conditions favor photosynthesis, which results in high productivity of the entire ecosystem. This has resulted in a vast diversity of species [species richness is high]. The biodiversity goes beyond species diversity and it entails forests species that are endemic. The best option for biodiversity conservation is to preserve the rainforests and look for other options for development land. Losing or disturbing the rainforests would always result in disturbance of such a vast diversity of species yet preserving it would result in conservation. The value of the tropical rainforests biodiversity The high photosynthesis rate of the ecosystem has led to vast food production, of which natural fruits, vegetables and medicinal herbs are available for human needs and consumption. The rainforests act as headwaters to most rivers, which provide fish and other edible animals that, are source of cheap protein to the local communities, they also act as a source of water for domestic use and wild life. Other material resources include grass, timber, and fuel wood. Since the species richness is high in the forests, sustainable harvesting should be encouraged to maintain the ecosystem diversity. (Mitteria, 1998) 7

8 FINDINGS General finding Madagascar is important in efforts to conserve primate diversity and the overall species diversity. The situation is more critical in Madagascar because the rainforest has a unique evolution history. The island has been separated from the African Mainland for as long as 200 million years ago, if ever it was connected. Most of the plant and animal species found there have evolved in isolation and are unique to the Island, you can not find them any where else in the World but a complete and accurate information about this complex ecosystem has not been documented by science, this is a challenge in the management and sustainability of the forests (Myers, 1997). Species diversity Species diversity in Madagascar comprises of unique flora and fauna. These unique species include the Primates, which consist of entirely lemurs, amongst which are the lemurs of the unusual primates on Earth, they range from the smallest mouse lemur up to the largest living prosimian, the aye - aye which is the strangest of all primates and the only representative of the entire primate family. There are also 7 endemic carnivores species, 29 terences, 106 birds, 233 reptiles, 142 frogs, 110 palms and about angiosperms plants are present. There are also more orchids (Jackson, 2000). This data is just giving a general picture of species diversity and richness but it is not clear as to what are the precise figures for each species. Hence there is a need for a more precise figure for each of these species and many others that are not yet discovered. A 8

9 quantified species diversity data would be more useful and it would form the basis of establishing the impact of forest depletion on the entire environment and management strategies. Medicinal and health value of the ecosystem The ecosystem has demonstrated to be of significant value to humankind. According to O`riordan (2000), there are two drugs obtained from this rainforest plant known as the Madagascar periwinkle, most of which is now extinct in the wild due to the deforestation of the Madagascar rainforest, one of these drugs, the vincristine, has increased the chances of survival for children with leukemia from 20 percent to 80 percent. Mobot (2003) report acknowledges the medicinal value of the ecosystem; it states that, eight out of ten children are now saved, rather than eight of ten children dying from leukemia. How many children have been spared and how many more will continue to be spared because of this single rainforest plant? What if we had failed to discover this one important plant among millions before human activities has led to its extinction? When our remaining rainforests are gone, the rare plants and animals will be lost forever-and so will the possible cures for diseases like cancer they can provide. According to Kremen (2002), for treating ailments, Almost 90 percent of people in developing countries still rely on traditional medicine, based largely on different species of plants and animals, for their primary health care. Worldwide sales of these plant-based drugs were estimated at $40 billion in Currently 121 prescription drugs sold worldwide come from plant-derived sources from only 90 species of plants. Still more drugs are derived from animals and 9

10 micro-organisms. Experts now believe that if there is a cure for cancer and even AIDS, it will probably be found in the rainforest (O`riordan, 2000). He further states that from the above information it is clear that the rainforest ecosystems have a potential of providing cures for many diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and many others. Lack of complete data on the species diversity, their medicinal value and their relation to the health of the people has led to uncertainties on the medicinal value of the ecosystem. This is a gap, which has to be filled, and integrated in the sustainable management programme of the ecosystem. The data on the medicinal value should go with the statistics on how much they are going to contribute to the health of the people. This can play a crucial role in fighting of life threatening diseases like cancer and HIV/AIDS. Economic value of the Forest Ecosystem According to Kremen (2002), the Masoala National Park of Madagascar has been established to protect the tropical forest by providing strong economic incentives on local, national and global scales. According to Kremen (2002), in Madagascar local people live close to the land and depend on it for many resources. She adds that the Malagasy people of Madagascar go to the rainforest to search for more than 100 species of plants and animals that provide them with essential food, medicine, construction and weaving materials." According to the Stanford study, these "renewable ecosystem goods" are worth more than $1 million a year to the 8,000 households living near Masoala. 10

11 Kremen further points out that the park also brings in ecotourism dollars and provides other benefits to local people, such as stabilizing erosion and water flow to prevent downstream flooding and sedimentation of rice paddies and fish nurseries. Such ecosystem services are really valuable and have an economic value that needs to be clearly defined and it can be used to justify the forest conservation to all stakeholders including the policy makers and environment managers in Madagascar. Climatic role of the forest and its relation to the hydrological cycle Mobot (2003) reports that the rainforests play a crucial role on the regulation of the Earths climate, both the hydrological cycle, the distribution of heat and rainfall and the chemical composition of the atmosphere will change because of the deforestation of the forests. He further states that, rainforests also produce a substantial amount of the Worlds Oxygen and it plays a significant role in the global water cycle, and the worldwide weather is influenced by the energy released into the atmosphere by the Tropical rainforests. The depletion of the forests will intensify the problem of the hydrological cycle imbalances, that is our planet will continue experiencing severe droughts and floods and these will result in loss of life, property, infrastructure, the ecosystem itself and more damages (Myers, 1997). Myers (1997) further states depletion of the rich diversity has done more harm than good but because of shortage of quantified data little is known of the significance of the harm and it is difficult to come up with the significant future impacts. 11

12 Many scientists have come to realize the importance of quantifying data, especially because forecasting of the impacts of this complex ecosystem require an intensive search and quantification of data that would be used in the models. According to O`riordan (2000), a model is as good as the data that has been used in that model, putting wrong data implies getting wrong results and this would hinder the precise predictions of future climatic and hydrological changes, in turn no proper precautions neither mitigations can be put in place. Since some scientists, managers and stakeholders have a certain level of awareness about the problems of hydrological imbalances that occur in the World today. The challenge becomes, how do we link such hydrological imbalances with climatic changes and how then should we link these to human activities since no one is ready to take the blame, and it is a challenge for people to stop maximizing their profits using these precious resources. This confusion is a great challenge to water managers, stakeholders and policy makers today; everyone seems to be pushing the blame to the next person. The developing countries look up to the developed countries to reduce their industrial production so as to reduce Carbon dioxide emissions, whilst these countries also expect the other countries to conserve the forests resources since they are good carbon sinks[lungs of the earth]. This is a challenge that can only be addressed by integrating all these activities, which contribute to climate change and hydrological imbalances. An integrated water resources management approach can do a commendable job in addressing this issue due to its 12

13 nature of incorporating most of the disciplines that are necessary for managing the hydrological cycle. Other impacts Most Scientists acknowledge the impacts of such climate changes and hydrological imbalances as they affect life, property, agricultural production, the entire ecosystem, the economy, and the health of the people. The challenge then becomes, what measures can be put in place to avoid such severe impacts? This issue can also be addressed by forming a causal link between all these activities as they continually influence each other, for example, the very same farmer who exploits the forest for food and for converting the forest land to a farm land, is the very same person who will suffer the consequences of severe droughts or high floods due to his activities (Myers, 1997). The challenge therefore becomes, what information can be used in raising awareness about the causal link between human activities and its consequences? Such as, global warming, climate change, floods, droughts and may more. One can say that most people are aware of that, but the fact is, most people would never take the responsibility until they are sure that it is their actions that have caused the damage on the environment, hence everyone would keep on pointing fingers on the others while the environment is being degraded (Mongabay, 2005). This is evident enough that incorporating a quantified and more precise data on the causal links between man and his activities is necessary and it is crucial for raising awareness so that all stakeholders can take responsibility of the environment. 13

14 CONCLUSIONS The role of intergrated water resources management in filling the information gaps In conclusion this paper reveals some evidence that, an intergration of knowledge across disciplines in managing the tropical rainforests like the Madagascar rainforests will improve the management of this wonderful ecosystem, this can be done by establishing an agenda for scientific research and creating an intergrated plan, and all this will lead to a research stage and in turn the establishment of an informed management programmes. The following points can support this: 1. A single/ reductionist approach to the tropical rainforests management has done more harm than good. Different science disciplines and institutions have put an effort in rescuing Madagascar but to date this ecosystem has lost about 90% of its unique species that were not even recorded by sciences. This reflects a need for adopting a holistic approach in managing this ecosystem; such an approach would bring all the necessary disciplines together with an aim of attaining sustainable management of the ecosystem, and the intergrated water resources management programme has the capacity of gathering all these disciplines. 2. Different authors, researchers and disciplines, have established some information about the Madagascar rainforest, such information had been established for different aims and objectives, for example, student researchers are interested in their academic research, and ecologists have multiple interests. This has made it difficult to co-ordinate the 14

15 information. The intergrated water resources management programme can play a significant role in gathering, intergrating and analysing this information for the purposes of proper management and sustainability of the ecosystem. 3. Intergrating the existing information would lead to the establishment of the clear bases for scientific research, other than having different researchers and institutions documenting the same data without progressing to studies that will address the missing information. The existing data reflects that most researchers have dwelt on the similar issues yet an intergrated water resources management will adopt all the necessary issues. 4. A model is as good as the information put into it, hence the current mathematical models for climate change and the hydrological cycle may fail to predict correct future situations due to the inaccurate and incomplete data shortages, the integrated water resources management programme can assist in filling the missing data so that climate change and hydrological forecasting can produce reliable data. 5.The same ignorance and shortage of complete and accurate data, which has led to the extinction of 90% of the Madagascar rainforest, is likely bring the forest to an end. The shortage of data on the species diversity of the forest, its medicinal value and links to health and the entire economy of the country puts the forest in a critical state. Furthermore, the lack of information to model the impacts of the forest on climate change would lead to severe and irreversible climatic and hydrological imbalances. 6. Solutions to such challenges are not easy, they take a lot of investment on data finding and analyses, the question therefore becomes, what is it that the managers are trying to 15

16 analyse in the absence of reliable and complete data and what type of policies are the poly makers formulating without reliable and complete data and what management programmes are the managers formulating without the necessary data? 7.The intergrated water resources management programme seem to be equipped enough to fill in and integrate all the missing gaps/ information towards the sustainable management of the Madagascar rainforests. It s contribution towards rescuing this forest, could lead to a regeneration and sustainability of this wonderful and complex ecosystem. 16

17 REFERENCES Christie C. (2002). Managing sustainable development. 2 nd edition, Earthscan Publishers Limited. 120 Pentonville road, Londo, N1 9JN, UK Eurostat (1999. Towards Environmental Pressure Indicators for the EU, 1st edn, Luxemborg Publications of the EU, European Communities Goodwin, D.C (2005). From managing watersheds for human and natural impacts copyrigth.http//www.ewrinstitute.org/files/pdf/usc Jackson R. (2000). Environmental Science 2 nd edn, Addison Wesley Longman, Edinburgh gate Hallow Essex, CM 20 JE, England Kremen. C. (2002) Tropical rainforests at risk from mans activities. http//www.unimilleniumproject.org Myers N (1997) The Rich diversity of biodiversity Issues, ML Press Washington DC Mittermeir RA (1988). In Biodiversity, National Academy Press, Washington DC Mobot (2003). Endemic species in the rainforets. http/www.mobot.com.home.htm Mobot (2003). Endemic species in Madagascar. Htto/www.wildmadagasca.org Mongabay (2005) Species in the Tropical rainforests. http/www.mogabay.com.home.htm O`riordan T. (2000). Environmental Science for the Environmental Management 2 nd edn, University of East Anglia, Prentice Hall 17

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