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Two centuries of forest overuse
When Europeans arrived in the early 17th century, the island of Martinique was entirely covered with forest. It suffered during the two centuries that followed both massive clearing to meet the needs of agriculture and breeding in the lower parts of the island and intense logging to provide precious woods, railway sleepers, and charcoal. The forests of the mountainous massifs of the northwest, for their part, paid a heavy toll with the eruption of Mount Pelée in 1902. At the beginning of the 20th century, the awareness of the need to monitor, manage, and protect the forests led to the creation of a forest service in 1903, then to the adoption of a forest code inspired by that of mainland France in 1922. At the same time, the rise in the standard of living and agricultural productivity and the development of tourism allowed the abandonment of the least productive lands and the forest reconquest of the lower parts of Martinique, such as here at Pointe Borgnèse, in the far south.
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