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Madagascar is endowed with stunning and diversified natural environments: from lush rainforests in the east, through breathtaking landscapes in the Central Highlands, to spectacular semi-arid areas in the south and a splendid coastline. It is the refuge of a rich and singular biota with an exceptional rate of endemism: with 100% of native mammals, 99% of frogs, 98% of reptiles, and 80% of flowering plants found nowhere else on Earth. These aspects combined with considerable human disturbance have led the country to be ranked among the world's “Biodiversity Hotspots”.
Unfortunately, this natural treasure is seriously threatened by different factors. Anthropogenic pressures, linked with the extreme poverty of rural communities, are considerable: slash-and-burn agriculture, seasonal burning of forests to create cattle pasture, hunting, over-exploitation of natural resources, and the breakdown of law due to recurrent political crises. This has dramatic consequences on the environment and rapidly sparks the reduction of natural habitats and the plants and animals they contain. Many different governmental and non-governmental organizations are striving to find effective solutions that can lead to tangible positive results.
“Not only is Madagascar incredibly important for primates, it is also one of the world’s highest priority biodiversity hotspots. It has already lost more than 90% of its original natural vegetation, and it has the highest levels of endemism at the species, genus, and family levels of any hotspot on Earth, conserving not just unique species but entire evolutionary lineages” (Mittermeier et al. 2010).
It has long been recognized that conservation efforts should consider human well-being to achieve long-term success. This is particularly important in tropical ecosystems since the majority of the population in the tropics, as on Madagascar, rely heavily on ecosystem services for their livelihoods. Thus, reconciling human and ecological dimensions is crucial for both sustainable conservation actions and successful management of natural resources. This is why the theme chosen for this meeting is "Tropical biology and sustainable development".
MADAGASCAR ATBC 2019 aims to gather researchers, students, and professionals in a range of scientific disciplines from around the world in order to provide an effective tool towards this common effort to harmonize biodiversity conservation and human well-being.
The meeting will provide an important and effective learning platform by addressing a wide range of topics and methods applied in the fields of tropical biodiversity, conservation, and environmental and social safeguarding. It will also be an opportunity for Malagasy researchers to disseminate their research findings and to highlight Madagascar’s uniqueness biodiversity. In addition, Malagasy stakeholders will benefit from cutting-edge capacity building, through mutual sharing of knowledge and experiences at a global scale.
It will also be an occasion to raise awareness and draw the attention of Malagasy political leaders, civil society, private sectors, and the public about the need to preserve Madagascar’s unique biodiversity, especially given that biodiversity is an important economic source that can increase the country's revenues in a sustainable development perspective.
This 56th annual meeting of ATBC is hosted by the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Antananarivo under the authority of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and the patronage of the Ministry of the Environment, Ecology, and Forestry.