While Madagascar is known for its strange animals and beautiful forests, much of the country has suffered severe environmental damage. Many of the island's rainforests have been cut down while valuable topsoil important for growing crops disappears due to erosion. Because Madagascar is among the world's poorest countries, people's day-to-day survival is dependent upon natural resource use. Most Malagasy never have an option to become a doctor, computer programmer, factory worker, or secretary; they must live off the land that surrounds them, making use of whatever resources they can find. Their poverty costs the country and the world through the loss of the island's endemic biodiversity.
Madagascar's major environmental problems include:
Deforestation and habitat destruction
Erosion and soil degradation
Overexploitation of living resources including hunting and over-collection of species from the wild