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The mangroves of Guyana, in South America, are gradually disappearing. Contrary to the coastline of its near neighbour, French Guiana, which is still relatively protected, that of Guyana has been largely developed. In order to develop agriculture and aquaculture, earth dikes were built, destroying the greater part of the mangrove forest.
A study( 1) conducted by IRD researchers and the University of Aix-Marseille shows that the reduced protection provided by mangroves against the swell will lead to the large-scale erosion of 370 km of the country's coastline. Only one ecosystem restoration programme will help contain this phenomenon.
The desert locusts are back in Mali and Niger. The FAO warned the two countries of new plagues during the summer of 2012. This "curse of the rains" threatens their crops and their food security. It may also however have hitherto unidentified long-term socio-economic consequences. A team representing the IRD and its partners(
1) recently revealed the severe impact of the major plagues of 1987-89 on the education of children in Malian villages affected at the time. School enrolment rates fell by 25 % to less than 18 %. Girls were particularly affected, leaving the classrooms at an even younger age than boys. The phenomenon is ascribed to a shortage of food following the destruction of the harvests by the locusts. This affects educational achievement, results in a fall in income of parents dependent on agriculture, which may in turn lead them to withdraw their children from schools.
These results are clearly disturbing in the current context of a new threat posed by locusts in Mali and Niger. The proliferation of insects is compounded by a political conflict that hampers anti-locust measures.