The Betsiboka is the main river of Madagascar, which runs for 525 kilometers from the north of Tananarive. The river is navigable for at least 130 kilometers inland and the shallowest points seen here stand out for their large rice fields.
While the red sediment carrying the river means an attractive example of a river estuary, it is a symptom of an ecological disaster for Madagascar. Humans have felled and removed the natural cover that formed tropical forests in such a vast way that erosion has accelerated greatly. Much of the sediment visible in the river represents an irreplaceable natural wealth.
Lateritic red brick soils, the result of the tropical climate, are responsible for the strong color of the sediments. Most of the deforestation in Madagascar has taken place in recent years, the same period during which observations were made from space. Recent observations show very little of the original forest.
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