So Rio Tinto has spent 20 years funding ecological research -- cataloguing native flora and fauna, building a library of rare seeds and planting saplings to transplant into deforested areas. They have even hired a team of conservationists to oversee their work. Manon Vincelette is a forest engineer who left her job at Conservation International in order to help Rio Tinto set up shop, and she says that the country can be developed in a "socially and environmentally responsible" manner.
"Even if you love forest and conservation, you should never fight development I think this country needs development. I mean, it has the potential. It has resources," said Vincelette.
Rajaobelina puts it this way: "We want to make sure they invest, but we want to make sure they understand the challenge of conservation and how the two can work together."
As Louis' team leave this forest, they each turn to the creature in the tree and say farewell: "Veloma." Literally, it means "May you live." As this country continues to try to weigh the needs of its people against its remarkable range of native species, ultimately, it will be the people who decide whether saving their forests means saving themselves.