This story was originally published by ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up for their newsletter.
Jocelyn knew only one way to live. Growing up next to the Manombo Special Reserve in southeast Madagascar, his family taught him from a young age to see the forest as a source of income. His grandfather had been a logger, cutting trees for timber and burning wood to make charcoal to sell. His grandfather taught his father, and his father taught him.
It was dangerous work. He risked landing in jail for illegal logging every time he ventured into the protected reserve. “I needed to feed my family,” recalled Jocelyn, who doesn’t use a surname; the vegetables he grew near his house weren’t enough. He also needed money for health care. Once, when his wife was pregnant and fell ill, he sold all of their plates and pans to pay for treatment at a government clinic. She wound up losing the baby anyway.
Then in 2019, Jocelyn went to a meeting that upended his life. Representative... Read more