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Grow, Forest, Grow!

Forest Area in Madagascar

Looking for an environmentally conscious vacation that's out of the way?

Try Madagascar. It's a California-sized island off the east coast of Africa in the tropical Indian Ocean.

This isolated nation understands biodiversity. Madagascar drifted away from other land masses a 160 million years ago, and most of its flora and fauna exist nowhere else. Consider: It's got 217 species of amphibians -- count 'em! And all but one are endemic, found nowhere else in the world.

Madagascar is also beginning to understand the importance of conservation. It once encouraged cutting down forests to clear space for farming and more than 80 percent of the original forests are gone.

However, in 2003 its government enacted substantial environmental protections. It traded forest clearing for tree planting, expanded reserves and citizen involvement.

Today, Madagascar has reduced deforestation eight fold. In fact, more than 15 million acres, or about ten percent of the island, are now tourist-friendly eco-reserves.

That's a trend in the right direction, says James McKinnon of Conservation International.

It looks like time to book my vacation.

Script by Bob Rhein

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