“The word lavaka means ‘hole’ or ‘gully’ in Malagasy, and it has become the accepted international term for the spectacular erosional features that characterize the highlands of Madagscar. Lavakas are gullies formed by groundwater flow, with steep or vertical sides and flat floors.”
Lavakas are often seen as an ecological catastrophe since rapid deforestion leads to young, active lavakas that can silt up rice fields. While obviously not desirable, these scars on a deforested landscape do offer a glimmer of hope as well. Some National Geographic explorers are finding that older, stabilized lavakas can become great agricultural pockets for rebuilding in these denuded communities.