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GEO Year Book 2004/5  
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CHALLENGES FOR THE FUTURE

Policy decisions during the year represent real gains, but the major challenge is to transform policy into meaningful action. The implementation of the decisions of the energy ministers meeting and the 10th AMCEN session as well as the full establishment of ZAMCOM are some of the immediate needs.

Our Changing Environment
Betsiboka Estuary, Madagascar: Flooding and soil erosion

Tropical Cyclone Gafilo hit
northern Madagascar on 7 and
8 March 2004. In the cyclone’s
wake, astronauts aboard the
International Space Station
documented widespread
flooding and a massive red
sediment plume flowing into the
Betsiboka estuary and the ocean
(bottom image). A comparative
image (top) taken in September
2003 shows normal water levels
in the estuary.

The Betsiboka is the largest
river in Madagascar. Its estuary is
one of the world’s fast-changing
coastlines, mainly due to
sediment washed from most of
the north of the island. Ocean-
going ships were once able to
travel up the Betsiboka estuary,
but must now berth at the coast.

Extensive logging and clearing
of Madagascar’s rainforests and
coastal mangroves have resulted
in severe deforestation on
Madagascar’s western slopes,
with very high rates of erosion.The situation is made worse
when tropical storms bring severe
rainfall, greatly accelerating the
erosion and clogging of coastal
waterways.

Source: Earth Observatory 2004b

 

Source: Earth Observations Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. Composition by UNEP/GRID – Sioux Falls

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