Madagascar’s RR: Cyclone Strikes

music
ambience: Hurricane

In the year 2000, two cyclones struck the island of Madagascar within a two-week period, decimating a railroad line which was crucial to the survival of the region. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Karen Freudenberger is a regional director of Madagascar’s FCE Railroad Rehabilitation. She was faced with the challenge of restoring the railroad to avoid an environmental disaster.

“When we walked down the line right after the cyclones, it was absolutely shocking. There were up to 100 to 200 yards of track just hanging over open air. There were 280 landslides over a 100 mile section, which meant, needless to say, that the train was not going through, and that was of critical importance because there are about a hundred thousand people who depend on the railroad and have no other transport in that region.

“And the studies that we carried out immediately after the cyclones, showed an absolutely disastrous consequence on both the population and the environment, should the line not reopen. On the population, their food security would be thrown into immediate disarray. They would not be able to feed their families, because there would be no way to sell crops and buy basic necessities that they had. Because people couldn’t sell crops like bananas and coffee, that they were traditionally used to selling in order to buy rice, they would have to put land into rice production, and that almost certainly implied increasing the amount of land that they farmed, and cutting the forest in order to do that. So our initial estimates were that several hundred thousand acres of forest would be cut simply as a result of that train line going out of service. “

Facing these devastating consequences, Madagascar officials planned to save the railroad and prevent further landslides with a little help from some useful plants. We’ll hear about their efforts in future programs.

Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation.

music

Madagascar's RR: Cyclone Strikes

In a country where railroads are of critical importance, officials face the challenge of dealing with cyclones.
Air Date:08/13/2004
Scientist:
Transcript:

music
ambience: Hurricane

In the year 2000, two cyclones struck the island of Madagascar within a two-week period, decimating a railroad line which was crucial to the survival of the region. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Karen Freudenberger is a regional director of Madagascar's FCE Railroad Rehabilitation. She was faced with the challenge of restoring the railroad to avoid an environmental disaster.

"When we walked down the line right after the cyclones, it was absolutely shocking. There were up to 100 to 200 yards of track just hanging over open air. There were 280 landslides over a 100 mile section, which meant, needless to say, that the train was not going through, and that was of critical importance because there are about a hundred thousand people who depend on the railroad and have no other transport in that region.

"And the studies that we carried out immediately after the cyclones, showed an absolutely disastrous consequence on both the population and the environment, should the line not reopen. On the population, their food security would be thrown into immediate disarray. They would not be able to feed their families, because there would be no way to sell crops and buy basic necessities that they had. Because people couldn't sell crops like bananas and coffee, that they were traditionally used to selling in order to buy rice, they would have to put land into rice production, and that almost certainly implied increasing the amount of land that they farmed, and cutting the forest in order to do that. So our initial estimates were that several hundred thousand acres of forest would be cut simply as a result of that train line going out of service. "

Facing these devastating consequences, Madagascar officials planned to save the railroad and prevent further landslides with a little help from some useful plants. We'll hear about their efforts in future programs.

Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation.

music