Madagascar dry forest confirmed as World Heritage Site


Andrefana dry forests, Madagascar

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THE United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has endorsed the Andrefana Dry Forests in Madagascar as one of the world’s most important heritage sites.

The announcement was made on Sunday via X, formerly Twitter.

“Just inscribed on the @UNESCO #WorldHeritage List: Andrefana Dry Forests,” a UNESCO tweet read.

The Andrefana Dry Forests form part of Madagascar’s dry deciduous forests that represents a tropical dry forest eco-region situated in the western and northern part of the southern African island country.

The forests have high numbers of endemic plant and animal species but have suffered large-scale clearance for agriculture.

The place is also among the world’s richest and most distinctive dry forests that include the Global’s 200 ecoregions sponsored by the World Wide Fund.

The Andrefana Dry Forests are home to distinctive limestone karst formations known as tsingy, which includes the World Heritage Site of Bemaraha.

The new world heritage site also boasts two separate areas within the eco-region at the Ampasindava peninsula in the north to Belo-sur-Tsiribihina and Maromandia in the south and the northern tip of the island.

According to an online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, Andrefana Dry Forests has these dry deciduous forests spanning the coastal plain with its limestone plateaus emanating virtually at sea level to higher altitudes to roughly 600 metres (2 000 ft).

The area includes wetlands and grasslands, mostly created by forest clearance for agriculture, as well as dry forests characterized by a deciduous canopy extending to a height of 10 to 15 metres.

The Andrefana Dry Forests boast a tropical climate, with summer daytime temperatures commonly exceeding 30°C (86°F), and a wet season between October and April.

Rainfall ranges from 1 000MM to 1 500mm and is more abundant than in the spiny thickets and succulent woodlands, but lower than in the eastern lowland rainforests.

The place has rich flora and fauna, which attract tourists.

The Andrefana Dry Forests is widely described as a place with a serial extension of the Tsingy de Bemaraha World Heritage property and consists of five protected areas.

Wikipedia identifies the new component parts of Andrefana Dry Forests cover a full range of ecological and evolutionary variation within the western forests of Madagascar from north to south, including western dry forests and southwestern spiny forest-thicket.

“These additional sites are of extreme importance for conservation as they cover a spectacular array of endemic and threatened biodiversity, including baobabs, flame trees (Delonix), as well as unique evolutionary lineages such as the Mesitornithiformes, an order of birds which is 54 million years old.”

Most dry forests have already been destroyed by human action, especially near the Central Highlands.

The remaining forest is severely fragmented. Burning, grazing, and logging are the major threats, and siltation, overfishing and invasive species impact the wetlands. Some species such as lemurs suffer from hunting.

– CAJ News

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