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IVF and its paradoxes Chromatin fiber
LETTERS I BOOKS I POLICYFORUM I EDUCATION FORUM I PERSPECTIVES
IN THEIR POLICY FORUM “AVERTING LEMUR EXTINCTIONS AMID
Madagascar’s political crisis” (21 February, p. 842), C. Schwitzer and
colleagues make an impassioned plea for emergency action to save
Madagascar’s lemurs. The need for such action is unquestionable,
but the authors repeat a tenacious misconception concerning human
impact on the island by saying that “only 10 to 20% of Madagascar’s
original forest cover”
remains (p. 842).
The evidence for the
oft-repeated claim that
people have eradicated 80
to 90% of Madagascar’s
forests [also cited in (1–3)]
is dubious at best. It is not
supported by the reference
provided by Schwitzer et
al. (4); for that study to be a
source for the claim, its estimate of recent forest cover must be used in
conjunction with an assumption of near-complete forest cover when
humans first arrived. This assumption has long been in doubt, and a
decade of palaeoecological investigation has revealed that a variety
of nonforest vegetation covers predate humans (5). We should temper
our claims about cumulative historical human impacts on the island
WILLIAM J. MCCONNELL1 AND CHRISTIAN A. KULL2
1Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University, East Lansing,
MI 48823, USA. 2School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University, VIC
*Corresponding author. E-mail: email@example.com
1. M. A. Barrett, J. L. Brown, M. K. Morikawa, J.-N. Labat, A. D. Yoder, Science 328, 1109
2. J. Bohannon, Science 323, 1654 (2009).
3. J. Bohannon, Science 328, 23 (2010).
4. Office National pour l’Environnement (ONE), “Evolution de la couverture de forêts
naturelles à Madagascar (2005–2010) (ONE, Antananarivo, Madagascar, 2013);
madagascar-2005-2010.html [in French].
5. W. J. McConnell, C. A. Kull, in Conservation and Environmental Management in
Madagascar, I. R. Scales, Ed. (Routledge, London, 2014), pp. 67–104.
IN THEIR POLICY FORUM “AVERTING LEMUR
extinctions amid Madagascar’s political crisis” (21 February, p. 842), C. Schwitzer et
al. call for ecotourism, community reserves,
and research stations as tools for lemur conservation. In fact, ecotourism already generates net conservation gains for at least 13
lemur species (1).
Ecotourism provides half the funds for
research and captive breeding at Parc Ivoloina
(1) for the critically endangered greater bam-
boo, blue-eyed black, and black-and-white
ruffed lemur (species cited in the Policy
Forum’s supplementary table S1). Funds
from ecotourism also pay local guides who
protect the endangered Hubbard’s sportive
lemur near the mining town of Ilakaka, where
unguarded woodland is cleared for firewood.
In addition, these funds support entrance and
Reserve on the dry southwest coast (1).
Tourism does cause some problems (1).
Wildlife smugglers capture aye-ayes, release
them briefly for tourists, and then recapture
them. Ring-tailed lemurs at Isalo National
Park are fed for the benefit of tourists.
Caged captured fossas are put on show
for tourists near Mantadia National Park.
Lemurs on display at a rehabilitation center
near Analamazaotra Nature Reserve may be
captured for tourism. These concerns are not
specific to Madagascar’s primates. Similar
exploitation concerns have been raised about
orangutan rehabilitation centers in Borneo
and chained captured jaguars on show to
tourists in the Amazon.
On balance, however, ecotourism helps
protect lemurs against logging (2–4), poach-
ing, and bushmeat hunting (5, 6). Many
endangered and critically endangered spe-
cies worldwide rely on ecotourism revenue
for conservation (7). Ecotourism works when
it switches local communities from cash or
subsistence consumption to tourism earnings
based on conservation (1, 8, 9).
Department of Environment, Griffith University, Gold Coast,
QLD 4222, Australia. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. R. C. Buckley, Conservation Tourism (CABI, Oxford,
2. M. A. Barrett, J. L. Brown, M. K. Morikawa, J.-N. Labat,
A. D. Yoder, Science 328, 1109 (2010).
3. M. A. Barrett, J. L. Brown, A. D. Yoder, Nature 499,
4. P. H. Raven et al., Conservation Biology: Voices from the
Tropics ( Wiley, New York, 2013), pp. 33–39.
5. M. A. Barrett, J. Ratsimbazafy, Nature 461, 470 (2009).
6. J. H. Razafimanahakaa et al., Oryx 46, 584 (2012).
7. R. C. Buckley et al., PLOS ONE 7, e44134 (2012).
8. R. C. Buckley, H. S. Pabla, Nature 489, 33 (2012).
9. E. F. Pienaar et al., Ecol. Econ. 98, 39 (2014).
MCCONNELL AND KULL QUESTION WHETHER
the current forest habitat represents “only 10
to 20% of Madagascar’s original forest cover.”
We agree that it would have been more pru-