This community is protecting thousands of acres of threatened forest and maintaining firebreaks, helping to conserve Madagascar’s unique biodiversity.
Most of Madagascar’s plants and animal species exist nowhere else on earth, and many of them are in real danger of extinction. Lemurs—primates unique to the island—are the world’s most endangered animal group. An alarming 98 percent of lemur species and subspecies are threatened. Extinction threatens more than half of Madagascar’s endemic tree species.
Madagascar is also one of the poorest countries in the world. Millions of people struggle to feed their families, putting intense pressure on scant natural resources.
Andranohobaka Village is in Ankarafantsika National Park, which contains one of the country’s five largest remaining fragments of dry deciduous primary forest. There are eight species of lemurs, 850 plant species, including the iconic baobab tree, and more than 140 bird species. The park is the only protected area where critically endangered mongoose lemurs are found. It is home to other endangered animals as well, including the Madagascar fish eagle, one of the rarest raptors in the world, and the fossa, Madagascar’s largest native carnivore.
People damage the park by cutting trees to make charcoal or for for slash-and-burn agriculture, and by grazing livestock there. But the greatest damage comes from uncontrolled wildfires. In just two months in 2019, 3,200 acres of forest inside the park burned.
Village residents are protecting a large area of the forest, close to the village, with weekly patrols. They also maintain miles of firebreaks each year, which keeps fires in savannah areas from spreading into the forest. Our project partner, Planet Madagascar, has worked with the community for several years on fire prevention and monitoring, reforestation, and conservation education.
Most community members are small-scale farmers who cannot read or write. They are using a Seacology grant to build a new primary school, replacing the village’s crowded, flimsy one-room school building. Only one out of three children in Madagascar finishes primary school; these parents, like families everywhere, want a better future for their children.