Sunday, August 07, 2005

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Madagascar forests threatened by Rio Tinto mining and World Bank

MadagascarMadagascar's unique forest under threat

Ten years ago Friends of the Earth's Andrew Lees died trying to save an idyllic island.

The Observer told his story. Now, as miners arrive, Jo Revill asks if he died in vain

Sunday August 7, 2005
The Observer

One of the world's biggest mining companies has been given permission to open up an enormous mine on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar which will involve digging up some of the world's most unique forest.

The decision has outraged campaigners at Friends of the Earth, who had opposed the plans from the outset.

It is all the more poignant because one of their leading directors, Andrew Lees, died 10 years ago in the same forest while investigating the controversial plans for a mine.

Madagascar is unique for its wildlife - of its estimated 200,000 plant and animal species, three-quarters exist nowhere else in the world.

Its beauty and coastline are also beginning to make it a popular tourism destination and its popularity has been further boosted by the film Madagascar, the animated movie which features animals escaping from a New York zoo and ending up on the island.

But the company, mining giant Rio Tinto, which has the backing of the World Bank for the plan, is adamant that environmental damage will be kept to a minimum.

Read more here.


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