A Future for Lemurs: A Contribution for the Construction of the New Research Center
Project location: MADAGASCAR, Valbio
Project start date: February 2001 - Project end date: This project covers various years
Project number: 2000-01
Beneficiary: Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments
Madagascar has an extraordinary biological heritage making the island unique in its concentration of endemic species. About 90% of island species, including lemurs, were not found anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, Madagascar is one of the 10 poorest countries in the world and on his territory is taking place an extensive process of deforestation that makes many of these plant and animal species threatened with extinction. Lemurs in particular are strongly influenced by this loss of habitat.
After the discovery by Dr. P. Wright in 1986 of new species of lemurs including the Golden Bamboo Lemur, a collaboration began within the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments (ICTE) and the Government of Madagascar, to establish a protected area for the conservation of this heritage of biodiversity. In 1991 the Ranomafana National Park was created.
In seven years, the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments, directed by Dr. Wright, has managed and developed the infrastructures of the park and has established a series of projects for the development of the communities living in the surrounding villages. In addition, the 176 square kilometers of rainforest were at the base of a series of multidisciplinary researches on biodiversity in the park. Since 1997, the National Park Service ANGAP has been entrusted as a park manager.
This project aims at providing an environmental education to school children living in the area of the park, teaching them the respect for the environment and paving the way for a future commitment to the protection and conservation of lemurs by the indigenous communities. The basis for research, teaching and environmental education is the International Centre for the Study of Biodiversity (ValBio Centre) in Ranomafana. The teaching activities are addressed to university students from all over the Country, police officers, staff of the Department of Water and Forests, local business men and women, and indigenous students and adults.
The research has as its object the conservation of biodiversity and includes behavioral studies on the ecology of the most important species at risk, a systematic study of the different communities, a study on the mechanisms of pollination and sowing of local species of plants, a study of the main preys of birds and mammals and a long-term monitoring of endemic species.
To promote reforestation, the following activities are planned:
- identify the most important species of trees and to build four new greenhouses for their cultivation;
- enlarge the ValBio Center with the construction of a new classroom for lectures, a canteen, a building for administration and a scenic pedestrian bridge linking the Centre and the opposite side of the Namorona River;
-build a laboratory equipped with air conditioning and a dormitory space for students and researchers stationing in the area for long periods;
- purchase educational materials such as books and stationery, two computers, two printers and two color videocameras to document the educational programs and research;
- organize an art competition for school children, with prizes for the best paintings on the theme of conservation.