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Since Madagascar was first settled about 2,000 years ago, more than 90 percent of the country's forests have been cut. Most of this logging took place in the last 50 years: land was cleared to make way for coffee, sisal and other commercial plantations. Madagascar's forests have also been logged for valuable tropical hardwoods, such as rosewood. Today, lumber companies and large plantations are generally not behind the removal of the relatively small amount of remaining forest. It is mostly small farmers who need more land to grow crops like rice to feed their families, or who need firewood for cooking.

A long strip of rainforest located in the province of Fianarantsoa in southeastern Madagascar connects the Ramomafana National Park to the north, and Andringitra National Park to the south. Biologists say such pathways between reserves are important for species protection. But this forest corridor, which is just 10 to 15 miles across in most places, is being chipped away at the edges, to the point that it is in danger of being severed altogether. In towns along a rail line that runs through the corridor, Mark and Karen Freudenberger are researching how to reduce the pressures that lead to the cutting of more virgin forest.

Forest Corridor: People of the Mountains
Communites in the shadow the the mountainous corridor are growing, threatening some of the island's last remaining virgin forest.
Fanning the Flames of Forest Destruction
Slash and burn agriculture threatens the remaining old-growth forest.

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