World Bank Loans Madagascar $52 Million To Protect Biodiversity

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Photo by Aleix Cabarrocas Garcia via Flickr CC

There are few places on earth with as much biodiversity as Madagascar -- in fact, 615 new species have been discovered there in the last 10 years alone. And yet, there are few places facing as much risk of losing its flora and fauna to logging, pollution, human encroachment on habitat and other problems. Luckily for Madagascar, it has received a fat chunk of money from World Bank to put towards conservation efforts. Reuters reports that the World Bank has approved a $52 million loan to Madagascar for the express purpose of protecting its biodiversity.

Illegal logging has been on the upswing after political unrest over the last two years, and the financing will provide much-needed support for 30 national parks and three new protected areas covering 2,7 million hectares. The funds will cover surveillance and control activities in protected areas, with the hope of stemming illegal logging, and will also help with relieving poverty in rural communities around the protected areas, which will put the residents in a better position to help in conserving the local ecosystems.

The World Bank states in a press release that the loan doesn't signal a renewal of the organization's program in Madagascar, which was put on hold after the military-backed coup in 2009. However, the World Bank recognizes that the area is of vital importance to the planet's biodiversity and in severe need of help.

"Madagascar is one of the world's poorest countries but is endowed with some of the world's richest natural assets," said Haleh Bridi, World Bank Country Director for Madagascar. "The biodiversity in Madagascar is a globally significant resource and an irreplaceable public good. We can't walk away from protecting it."

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