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Madagascar rainforests get World Heritage Listing
mongabay.com
June 27, 2007





The World Heritage Committee has named the rainforests of Madagascar as one of three new UNESCO World Heritage List sites.

An island slightly larger than the state of California, Madagascar is home to a bewildering array of wildlife from dancing lemurs to absurdly colorful chameleons. Eighty percent of the island's species are endemic, meaning they are found nowhere else on Earth. Biologists estimate that one percent of the planet's biodiversity--and more than half of Madagascar's biological richness--is found in the rainforests designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The U.N. agency issues the following statement on the listing.

"The Rainforests of the Atsinanana comprise six national parks distributed along the eastern part of the island. These relict forests are critically important for maintaining ongoing ecological processes necessary for the survival of Madagascar's unique biodiversity, which reflects the island's geological history," stated UNESCO.


Chameleon in Madagascar
Inscribed both for their importance to ecological and biological processes, the rainforests are also inscribed for their biodiversity and the threatened species they support. The rate of endemism within these forests is exceptionally high at 80 to 90 percent for all groups. The property is of global significance for fauna, especially primates.

On Wednesday UNESCO also added South China Karst in China and Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes in the Republic of Korea as World Heritage sites.

Related

Lemur land, Madagascar now protected. Madagascar is one of the world's most special places. An island slightly larger than the state of California, Madagascar is home to a bewildering array of wildlife from dancing lemurs to absurdly colorful chameleons. Eighty percent of the island's species are endemic, meaning they are found nowhere else on Earth.

Why visit the real island of Madagascar?. Later this week Dreamworks releases Madagascar, an animated film depicting a group of zoo escapees who visit the island by the same name off the eastern coast of southern Africa. While the film takes certain liberties with its representation of the country, the real-life Madagascar is a fascinating place to visit. Madagascar's wildlife is among the best in the world in terms of diversity, abundance, and approachability and travel to Madagascar for this purpose is most rewarding. Madagascar also offers spectacular landscapes, an unusual history, and a countryside full of generally friendly and wonderful people.



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