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Madagascar

Antsahaberaoka

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Conservation benefit: Support of a 4,819-acre rainforest reserve for 30 years

Community benefit: Construction of a footbridge and primary school classrooms

Date Approved: 01.2012

Forest

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

Madagascar is one of the world’s top five biodiversity hotspots, but it faces the ongoing loss of its forests. In the northeast, illegal logging of rosewood and ebony trees has hit Marojejy National Park and Masoala National Park especially hard. These two UNESCO World Heritage Sites are categorized as “in danger.”

Marojejy National Park has over 550 square kilometers of mountainous primary rainforest. It is home to 11 species of lemurs, including the critically endangered silky sifaka. Fewer than 2,000 silky sifaka lemurs remain in the wild; none has ever survived in captivity. Most of the remaining animals live in Marojejy. One of the largest concentrations of silky sifakas lives near the northwestern boundary of the reserve, near the remote rural community of Antsahaberaoka. Because this village is pressed against the national park boundary, community members struggle to find land to farm. Sometimes, they grow crops inside the reserve.

The people of Antsahaberaoka report that poor schools are their biggest problem. Their primary school is a deteriorating, parasite-ridden small bamboo and wood building. They also need a footbridge, because during the rainy season, many children (and adults) are unable to cross a large river to get to the school. Seacology is providing funding for a new school, restroom block, and 40-meter footbridge. In exchange, the community, working with the Lemur Conservation Foundation, has agreed to stop all habitat disturbance for 30 years in 4,819 acres (1950 hectares) of Marojejy National Park next to the village.

Project Updates

December 2017

Our partners report that the new, reinforced bridge has been completed. Children on the other side of the river again have access to the village’s school.

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November 2017

The bridge repairs are going well and should be finished within the next month.

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August 2017

Seacology has made a grant to the Antsahaberaoka community, so they can replace the footbridge destroyed by cyclone Enawo a few months ago.

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June 2017

Intense tropical cyclone Enawo hit Madagascar in March of 2017, causing widespread damage and killing almost 100 people. One unfortunate consequence of the storm was the destruction of the Seacology-financed footbridge at Antsahaberaoka, Our field representative in Madagascar, Erik Patel, dispatched someone to make the two-day hike to the village to assess the situation.

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July 2015

Our Madagascar field representative, Erik Patel, reports good news: The government has permanently stationed two salaried teachers at the village school. Like many very rural communities, previously the community had to pay for its own local teachers, who are far less trained and receive no government salary.

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June 2014

This project is now complete. Some repairs to the bridge were made in December 2013. The classrooms and footbridge remain well-utilized, and the conservation area is being respected.

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February 2014

Madagascar Field Representative Erik Patel submitted this update in November 2013: “I am very pleased to report that the school is finished, and not only that the painting is done, the toilets are finished, and all tables, desks, and chairs have been brought to the village (a large undertaking which we helped to organize) and are now being assembled there. The School District has also lived up to their agreement to send an official well-trained state paid teacher to Antsahaberaoka to teach in the new school. According to the park ranger stationed there and meetings with the local forest police, the community is generally maintaining their conservation agreement; no traps have been found in the large part of the forest (contrary to years ago) which is part of the agreement, several silky sifaka groups are seen sometimes, and they are walking the new transects we made which is helping with the monitoring. Duke Lemur Center SAVA Conservation will also be providing the forest police with new strong raincoats (made in the USA) and rainboots to assist with the forest monitoring. The only project concern at this time is that the bridge needs some minor repairs; the cement has cracked on one side. I will be sending a repair team there soon to check on the bridge to determine exactly what should be repaired.”

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June 2013

According to Field Representative Erik Patel, “The Antsahaberaoka school will be finished soon. Completion of the Seacology funded foot-bridge (with guard rails) has speeded up the work there and really energizing the village. For many, that bridge was dream no one ever believed would actually happen.” Handrails were added, as many people, especially children, were initially afraid to cross it, as it is not a familiar structure in the area. Seacology is providing additional funds to furnish the school.

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