Madagascar is the fourth largest island on Earth. Because it separated from mainland Africa millions of years ago, species here have evolved in isolation and represent an extraordinary array of unique and unusual plant and animal life, some of which are found nowhere else on the planet. Unfortunately, the last century has witnessed the destruction of Madagascar’s tropical forests, mountainous plateaus and spiny deserts. Logging, mining, cattle-grazing and unsustainable agriculture are the cause of this destruction. Fairchild is working with local experts and organizations in Madagascar as the country takes steps to conserve natural areas by creating protected areas and engaging local communities in conservation efforts. In the south of Madagascar, Fairchild has partnered with the Arboretum d'Antsokay to support the development of a regional conservation facility for the unique spiny forest of Madagascar.
The Lin Lougheed Spiny Forest of Madagascar showcases some of the wonderful plants found in Madagascar’s spiny desert ranges and brings attention to the woeful destruction of these natural areas. This exhibit is a representative display of the variety of unusual and rare plants found in this threatened habitat, of which ninety five percent are endemic, meaning they are found nowhere else in the world. Collection of wood for fuel and construction material, overgrazing, land clearing for agriculture, and the spread of nonnative plants are impacting these forests.
The spiny forests of Madagascar are at approximately the same latitude as South Florida and experience pronounced dry and wet seasons (although the dry season in Madagascar is longer than our own). They are also subject to the possibility of hurricane (typhoon) events. Most Madagascar species will thrive here with some careful attention to good drainage and little irrigation. As the subtle change of seasons takes place, so does the appearance of the Spiny Forest Exhibit. In winter, the forest looks otherworldly, silver and gray. It lives up to its name. Spring brings the dramatic flowers of the Pachypodiums and Aloes. Plants that seemed little more than spiny sticks leaf out with the summer rains into dense trees or shrubs. Visit the Lin Lougheed Spiny Forest of Madagascar today and see some of the extraordinary and endangered plants of one of the most fascinating regions in the world.