Cover stories: Indigenous and local knowledge

Journal of Applied Ecology’s September 2020 cover highlights an international Malagasy-Finnish project trying to reforest some of the damaged Malagasy forests. In the photo, a project worker shows a shoot that will be planted in one of the areas under reforestation process. Here photographer, Joan de la Malla shares some more of her work and tells the story behind the photos. The corresponding research contributes to our Special Feature, Informing decision‐making with Indigenous and local knowledge and science.

Madagascar ranks fifth amongst the countries with most biodiversity in the world. Moreover, the vast majority of this biodiversity is endemic to the island but almost all of its forests have disappeared, and habitat loss caused by the slash and burn agricultural practices employed by local communities to sustain their livelihoods constitutes a serious threat to most of its species. Setting fire to the forests is not only harmful to flora and fauna. In the long term this type of agriculture becomes unsustainable and puts the food self-sufficiency of local communities at risk, at the same time as it seriously undermines nature tourism, a significant revenue stream for the island. While working as a photographer for some time around this topic I had the opportunity to photograph the gorgeous wildlife and landscapes of the remaining wild places of the island along with the slash and burn agricultural practices and the reforestation projects and the scientific work being done to safeguard and restore the natural heritage of the country.

All articles in the Special Feature, Informing decision‐making with Indigenous and local knowledge and science (joint with People and Nature), are free to read for a limited time.

Read more about the research included in this Special Feature: How ecological assessments can benefit from engagement with Indigenous and local knowledge

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