Wikipedia describes Serendipity as meaning a “happy accident” or “pleasant surprise”; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful while not specifically searching for it. This was the case last weekend in Madagascar.
Even in a land where 90% of the forests have been decimated leaving a sea of desolation, there lies hope. In the past weekend, Eden’s field leader made an accidental but incredible discovery, he came across a hidden forest, an oasis of green, in a desolate deforested sea of red and brown exposed earth. As Steve Fitch, the founder of Eden Reforestation Projects commented in an email to us, ‘the crazy thing about the hidden forest is it is simply not supposed to exist.’
The Lost World
Jamie Shattenberg, Eden’s field leader spearheading their new pilot dry deciduous reforestation site, who made the incredible discovery described it as such:
” I think parts of it are primary forest. It is small but amazing. The river running through it was crystal clear. We found what could possibly be two mantella frogs, or a type of poison dart frog and a hissing roach.. I did not think they lived near Mahajanga. According to one of my books they have not been sighted in Mahajanga. The bird life was a amazing and I am sure some lemurs live here.”
Exploring The Lost World
After the excitement of discovering this Lost World, Jamie commented, ” The sad thing is, it is being cut down for charcoal,” but goes on to say, ” I would love to see us save this prized find and expand its borders. I can’t wait to go explore it a little more.”
Seeds of Hope
But there is hope, not only does the hidden forest provide new species and a seed source for the newly donated 170 hectare dry deciduous reforestation site, but Steve Fitch has said that he is going to work on securing government permits to safeguard the property. In his own words ‘This is BIG!’. This accidental find is located 2 miles from the land that was given to ERP – maybe one day this little forest will once again be surrounded by a sea of green instead of dry desolation.
Madagascar’s Incredible Biodiversity
This really is an amazing discovery but also highlights the plight of the remnant forests in Madagascar and how the wildlife is being pushed into smaller and smaller parcels of land. The biodiversity in Madagascar
is incredible – within the past decade over 600 new species have been discovered. It is becoming more and more urgent as forest destruction continues to help preserve this unique environment.
Photo of what could possibly be a mantella frog that Jamie Shattenberg found in the clear running stream in the hidden forest, only 2 miles from ERP's dry deciduous reforestation site and surrounded by a sea of desolation. Mantellas are small frogs endemic to Madagascar with irridescent colours with combinations of blue, black, orange, yellow and green. Their skin is toxic, much like the arrow poison frogs of South America.
All Is Not Lost
Eden’s first pilot dry deciduous reforestation site located on the new Sarobidy Training Centre offers hope to preserving Madagascar’s unique wildlife. ‘Sarobidy’ in Malagasy means ‘precious’. Life is precious, and trees are precious in that they help to create sustainable life on this planet we call earth.
The Next Big Think is proud to be part of this incredible vision that ERP has, and honoured to be part of the continuing journey and to listen to the great news, after all life is a journey and it is the stories that are remembered once the destination is reached.
May one day, Sarobidy forest echo throughout with the serenade of mantellas and the chattering lemurs. And may the memory of this serendipitous moment be remembered together with the story of how this hidden forest and the Lost World that it contained, was saved from obliteration.
* Photos by Jamie Shattenberg, © 2013
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