Conservation news

Audio: Amazon tribe’s traditional medicine encyclopedia gets an update, and conservation effectiveness in Madagascar examined

On today’s episode, we’ll get an update on an ambitious effort to document traditional indigenous healing and medicinal practices in the Amazon and speak with the reporter behind Mongabay’s popular new series on conservation efforts in Madagascar.

Our first guest on today’s episode of the Mongabay Newscast is Christopher Herndon, a medical doctor who studied at Yale and Harvard who is currently based at the University of Washington. Herndon, who is on Mongabay’s board, has worked over the past decade and a half in some of the most remote regions of the Amazon to research the medicinal plant knowledge and healing systems of indigenous peoples.

As co-founder and president of the group Acaté Amazon Conservation, Herndon has supported the Matsés people in planting healing gardens, which are basically living pharmacies as well as classrooms, and to document their traditional healing and plant knowledge in an encyclopedia. Mongabay interviewed Herndon back in 2015 about the first volume of the encyclopedia, and that article went on to become our most shared piece that year. The second volume of the encyclopedia was just completed in September, so we took the opportunity to invite Herndon onto the program to provide us with an update.

Our second guest is Mongabay contributor Rowan Moore Gerety, the writer behind our recent series on the effectiveness of conservation interventions in Madagascar. The island nation has been a global conservation priority for decades, receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in conservation funds from international donors — but rising deforestation, commercial exploitation of wildlife, and degradation of critical habitats suggest that these conservation investments may not be reaching their full potential.

Mongabay hired Moore Gerety, a veteran radio and print journalist, to investigate the effectiveness of past conservation spending in Madagascar and examine the factors that contribute to or hinder success with the aim of informing future conservation efforts, and he appears on the Newscast to tell us what he’s found.

Here’s this episode’s top news:

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At the start of Acaté’s initiative, not a single Matsés elder plant master had an apprentice. © Acaté Amazon Conservation.

Follow Mike Gaworecki on Twitter: @mikeg2001