As so often, however, campaigners against mining and other projects which damage the environment will do themselves no favours by neglecting to take into account the feelings of local people. My experiences in another part of Madagascar were that the people were afraid of the forests and that even well-educated Malagasies remain superstitious and fear harmless animals.
Educational programmes to convince local people of the importance of the forests to their own country and lifestyle, as well as to vazaha (foreigners), should be set up throughout Madagascar. The Worldwide Fund for Nature already runs an excellent programme based on the zoo in Antananarivo, but this is only available in the capital. Without such educational work, people in and around the proposed mining area will see the influx of money and, no doubt, free-spending foreigners as a welcome boost to the local economy. They may not realise that this will be a transient phenomenon which cannot be sustained.
A fund to allow high-quality environmental education throughout Madagascar would be the most fitting tribute to Andrew Lees, and I hope that Friends of the Earth and other environmental groups can set one up.
Yours faithfully PAUL K. MOSTYN Gorton, Manchester 9 JanuaryReuse content