Multiple uses of tropical mosaic landscapes 

Many landscapes in the tropics consist of a mosaic of different types of land use. How people make use of these different ecosystems, with their particular plant communities, was unclear until now. Researchers, many of them from Madagascar, have now investigated this in an interdisciplinary Malagasy research project at the University of Göttingen. When considering biodiversity, forests often get the most attention. But this research shows that rural households use a wide range of plant species and services provided by many nearby ecosystem types. 285 plant species, almost half of which are found only in Madagascar, are used for food, fodder for livestock, medicine, construction and weaving. Of all the diverse types of land, surprisingly, fallow land is especially important for people. The researchers conclude that there must be a balance between the needs of society and the conservation of species-rich landscapes. The results were published in the journal Ambio.

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