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Conservation benefit: Support of an agreement to stop new shifting cultivation in 988 acres of biologically diverse forest for 15 years

Community benefit: Construction of two primary school classrooms and a restroom block

Date Approved: 07.2010


This project protects forest, preventing the release of greenhouse gases and reducing erosion that damages coastal and ocean ecosystems.

Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, is one of the world’s top five threatened biodiversity hotspots. The Makirovana-Tsihomanaomby forest complex in northeastern Madagascar consists of 20 square miles of low-elevation, fragmented, humid forest. The Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) has identified it as a national priority area for plant conservation, and the government is in the process of formally recognizing it as a protected area. Numerous locally endemic and threatened plant species are found there. Animal diversity is robust as well, with 60 species of reptiles and amphibians, 75 bird species, and six species of lemur.

The forest is threatened by bushmeat hunting, rosewood logging, and especially by slash-and-burn farming. Shifting cultivation by the slash-and-burn method is traditional and widespread in eastern Madagascar. It is the primary cause of deforestation and upland forest degradation. Over centuries, it has contributed heavily to the loss of approximately 90 percent of Madagascar’s original forest cover.

Since 2008, the MBG has worked with Antanandava, a community of 1,092 south of the forest, to reduce these threats and conserve the area. The community has agreed to stop all new shifting cultivation in the 988-acre Makirovana-Tsihomanaomby forest complex. In support of this commitment, Seacology is funding construction of a new primary school. It will replace the village’s small, deteriorating bamboo and wood school.

Project Updates

June 2011

According to project coordinator Chris Birkenshaw of the Missouri Botanical Garden, as of early April 2011, “The school is essentially complete except for a second coat of paint. We expect that all will be completed in one week and then MBG with the committee of parents will make an inspection of the work to confirm that the specifications of the contract were followed.”

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January 2011

According to project coordinator Chris Birkenshaw of the Missouri Botanical Garden, the contract between the builder and MBG for the construction of the classrooms was signed on October 8 2010. Also in October, a committee of parents was created by popular vote and given the responsibilities of: a) organizing the contribution of the local community (transport of materials and stones) towards the construction of the school; and b) with Dorian (MBG’s site-based facilitator), checking that the builder respects the plan and material specifications. Construction materials are being transported from the major town of Sambava to the River Bemarivo and then transferred to canoes to the river bank closest to the village. From there, the parents carry the materials to the construction site. To date they have transported 200 sacks of cement, 55 cubic meters of sand, 80 planks, 15 cubic meters of gravel, 10 cubic meters of stone blocks, and all the required metal strengthening rods. According to Chris Birkenshaw, this contribution should not be underestimated: it represents much hard work and a real investment by the people of Antanandava in the education of their children. The walls of the classrooms are being constructed of concrete breeze blocks. These are made by hand at the construction site. In total, 2,200 blocks are required and to date 1,700 have been made. The stone block and gravel foundation for the classrooms have been completed, and the walls have been partially completed.

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Full or partial funding for this project provided by Seacology Scandinavia.