Protection and Promotion of Biodiversity for Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in the North West of Madagascar

Project location: Madagascar, Ambato, Ambohidravy protected areas, Site “Usine A” Diana Region, District Ambanja; Lakes of Mount Passot, Nosy B
Project start date: June 2012 - Project end date: November 2013
Project number: 2012-057
Beneficiary: L’homme et L’environnement


Created in 1993, the NGO Man and the Environment (MATE) manages protected areas - in partnership with the Malagasy Ministry of Environment - and shares knowledge about valuation of biodiversity for the benefit of the communities.
MATE aims to reconciliate man and nature, and promotes ideas and actions helping to develop awareness about the socio-economic and cultural richessness provdes by biodiversity in its different form.
Respecting an holistic approach, MATE developed its programs in three complementary poles:
- Environmental fields
- Social Sector - culture and governance
- Support to local economic development (production of essential oils, handcraft, community base tourism, etc.)
MATE actions now concerns 8 sites, representing 60 000 hectares or rare and endangered forest, and more than 11 000 people through Madagascar Island.
Over the time, MATE has also identified as key factors of success of its interventions:
- maximum integration of locally available resources;
- capacity building : skills and technology transfer, and issues of access to water, renewable energy and telecommunications;
- promotion of a participatory approach from the formulation to the implementation and evaluation of projects or activities;
- formalization of policies and strategies for empowerment - sustainability from the early conception of the programs.

Sanctuary of nature, Madagascar is an island characterized by a strong human and ecological diversity, a unique ecosystem (with endemism reaching approximately 80% for wildlife and flora for 90%), many specific species are representing a precious heritage both for the scientific community and for the development of the country.
At the same time, population is in very deep poverty and precariousness, as a consequence as bad governance and lack of capacity to create local added value in the treatment and transformation of natural resources.
Until this day, environmental policies (Environmental Plan, Environmental Charter) failed to cope with destruction of the ancestral land, national soil and natural resources, whether by the hand of the man, or as an indirect consequence of economic actions not taking sufficient account of the necessity to protect nature.
Convinced of the need to propose pragmatic alternatives to overexploitation of forests, while maintaining priority conservation and knowledge of biodiversity, the NGO Man and the Environment manages, in partnership with the Malagasy Ministry of Environment, three remarkable sites in the area Diana (Ambanja and Nosy Be districst), in the northwest of Madagascar:
• "Ambohidravy" protected area
• "Ambato" protected area
• Sites of the sacred Lakes of Mont Passot in Nosy Be Island
MATE is also involved in the village of "Usine A", a production area of cash crops and agricultural commodities.

With the support of private founder, health and education programs are already implemented in Ambohidravy and Usine A. Two reforestation campaigns (twenty hectares of land) have been conducted in Ambohidravy and Mont Passot, with the recruitment of 6 plants nurseries men.
The results of a first biological inventory in Ambohidravy protected area allowed to know that this site is one of the best preserved area n the north west of Madagascar.
Indeed, regional endemic species can still be found. However, we're still facing many threats because of poverty of people illegally hunting wild animals and collecting plants, and also due to the illicit exploitation of the forest for the timber needs of cities and clearing land for cultivation.
For this reason, MATE formulates the present proposal, which combines a program of biodiversity conservation and capacity building of local stakeholders for good governance of natural resources as an alternative to overexploitation of these resources.
The approach assumes that local development, with a reference to political and economic benefits, is linked with decentralization policies : the project therefore supports structuring to local communities land authorities, both legal and traditional.
MATE transfers to this project all the experience it has gained on its other intervention sites, and through the implication of its program managers for the supervision and management of various activities, including training - capacity building.

The intervention, which received a grant from the Nando Peretti Foundation, has two different sides :
- The first one aims to develop a better protection and knowledge of biodiversity in the North West of Madagascar, to participate in awareness of elected officials and of the public that should consider the precious and specific value of natural and cultural resources at its disposal for its development as well as the need to create new opportunities for the benefit of local communities.
- The second part deals with promoting good governance, specifically for local appropriation of modes of sustainable management of natural resources, and to consolidate an innovative partnership between local authorities and civil society (local associations, producer groups), to better coordinate answers to each according to their specificities, and then to mobilize human, material and financial resources. This contributes to better appropriation of the project activities, results, and sustainability.
This approach is based on partnership and cooperation between a plurality of actors. This is an indispensable tool for development from the base, and to fight against poverty of populations.
Both sides of this project contribute to a better management of natural and cultural potentialities involving all stakeholders, to implement the conservation program, and improve the living conditions of the population by giving the authorities the tools to improve collaboration with those involved in the management of biodiversity.
Looking at the importance of human pressure on the sites, control measures and monitoring of forests are absolutely necessary in a conservation framework.

The activities featured in this framework are outlined below:

I. Protection and knowledge of the North Western biodiversity of Madagascar
I. a) Knowledge of biodiversity and of the relationship between man and nature in specific sectors of interest
- Inventories, studies and ethnological investigations (traditional knowledge and practices, and human activities related to the specific plants and animals studied)
- Production of information materials, scientific communication: cultural calendars, recommendations for sustainable management of resources, posters, coloring books and information panels, publications
- Public seminar in Antananarivo, in partnership with research organizations involved in the project: Botanical and Zoological Park of Tsimbazaza, University of Ankatso (Laboratory of Anthropology, Faculty of Economics - Sapienza University),
- Environmental education workshops for primary school children and adolescents
- Training of guides on environmental mediation, creation of new tourism trails and development an eco-tourism offer linked with nature observation
I. b) Forest monitoring and ecological habitat restoration
- Formalization and assistance brigades patrol, formalization of customary law for forest offenses (called "Dina") and organization of a workshop on forest governance
- Training on forest legislation, forest monitoring and prevention
- Establishment and organization of the mixed brigades control (forest administration, representant of the villages or "fokontany" and communities)
- Equipment of the patrols
- Training on the management of tree nurseries and reforestation
- Development of monitoring plots and nurseries, seedling production
- Establishment of botanical gardens in Nosy Be, Usine A and Ambohidravy, for research, educational activities and ecotourism
- Training of tree nurseries people about orchids multiplication and culture

II. Improve the governance frameworks of natural resources and implement an innovative partnership for sustainable human development
II.1 Participatory formulation of the development plan
- Territorial inventory : collection of bibliographic data, survey, intervews of local officials, traditional authorities and devolved services, audit of skills and expectations of local authorities involved in the project
- Organization of public consultation sessions (6 villages or "fokontany" and 4 municipalities concerned )
- Formulation of a land use and development plan and organization of a debriefing session for its validation
- Evaluation of the implementation of management plan
II.2 Strengthening capacity of local actors to ensure a better balance of development policies on the entire territory
- Training in good practices for sustainable management of natural resources / growth areas
- Technical training in agro-ecological
- Training on orchids propagation and cultivation (rainy season)
- Sensitization workshop on social aspects of development: gender approach, youth participation, cultural diversity
II.3 capacity building workshop about management of natural resources, agroecology.
- structuring local organizations with the support of a socio-organizer

These a re the aims of this project:

1 - Develop knowledge of biodiversity and identify of fifteen species of specific interest regarding to cultural or socio-economics aspects (flora, fauna) .
2 - Protect the hard core forest, mangrove swamps and lakes of Mont Passot
3 - Develop an audit of the territories and a management plan conciliating conservation areas and human activities.
4- Develop an exemplary framework of governance and sustainable management of natural resources involving the public sector, traditional authorities, MATE NGO and communities
5- Improve citizen participation in public action: creation of forums to share information and encourage citizen participation and dialogue, inclusion of women, youth, elders...

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