Burning on Madagascar
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Burning on Madagascar

November 14, 2005

The red dots in this image mark the locations of fires in the grasslands and woodlands of Madagascar. Many of these fires are set intentionally to clear land for agriculture and to add nutrients to the soil.

These fires, as well as natural resource extraction and the introduction of non-native species, have heavily modified this "hotspot" of biodiversity.

Because of its isolation from mainland Africa and its rich variety of ecosystems, Madagascar is home to many endemic species, or organisms not found anywhere else in the world.

For example, Conservation International estimates that 89% of the island's 13,000 flowering plant species and 93% of its mammal species are endemic. New species, such as golden bamboo lemurs, are still being described, or recorded and named, by biologists.

At 587,041 square kilometers (226,658 square miles) in area, Madagascar is the 4th largest island in the world, behind only Greenland, New Guinea, Borneo. The land surface varies from tropical wet and tropical moist forests to dry deserts and shrublands.

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