OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo announced Monday that their collaboration with the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership (MBP) has resulted in 3 million trees planted in Madagascar.
The reforestation efforts, supported by the Arbor Day Foundation, are focused on providing habitat for lemurs.
According to the zoo, lemurs are the most threatened group of primates worldwide. Habitat loss is one of the largest threats to Madagascar's remaining lemur species.
A small community in southeastern Madagascar called Kianjavato is where the primary reforestation program is located.
Fragments of forest around Kianjavato are home to nine lemur species, including the critically endangered black & white ruffed lemur which can be seen at the Henry Doorly Zoo.
Various trees native to Madagascar are planted to regrow habitats and to provide timber and fruit for the surrounding community.
Locals voluntarily participate in weekly planting events according to the zoo, with about 17,000 trees planted each week.
The MBP organizes the planting events and supports more than 150 full-time Malagasy employees.
Dr. Edward E. Louis Jr., Director of Conservation Genetics at the zoo and founder of the MBP, started the project in 2012.
In its first five years, the MBP planted one million trees, then planted its second million in less than two years. Now, the MBP has planted its third million in only 14 months, the zoo says.
"From the project’s beginning, we have directly worked with the Madagascar community to provide them with the tools and opportunities they need to better their livelihoods, without it affecting their environment,” said Dr. Louis. “Restoring this relationship - between the people and nature - builds a sustainable community.”