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Madagascar

Mandena, Manantenina, and Ambohimanarina Villages

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Conservation benefit: Increased monitoring and protection of 3,500 acres of forest

Community benefit: Repair of four ecotourism bungalows and restrooms

Date Approved: 06.2019

Ecotourism

This project supports a local conservation-based tourism initiative.

Forest

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

“The United States have the Statue of Liberty, France has the Eiffel tower…. For us in Madagascar it is our biodiversity …”

These words were written by Professor Jonah Ratsimbazafy, one of a group of scientists urging Madagascar’s government to act swiftly to stop the country’s calamitous loss of habitat. An astounding 89% of Madagascar’s plants are found nowhere else; the same is true for 92% of its mammal species, including the iconic lemurs.

Marojejy National Park is a World Heritage Site that is home to at least 10 species of lemurs, including the silky sifaka, one of the rarest primates in the world. About 90% of the park is primary forest. There are hundreds of species of birds, reptiles and amphibians, and some of the last stands of ancient rosewood trees. But people have been clearing trees for timber or to grow rice—and even moving park boundary markers to make it appear that more land is available for farming.

Combating these threats, according to a plan developed by biologists to save lemurs in the wild, requires a two-pronged approach: Increase ecotourism, and step up enforcement. This project does both.

Tourism helps in two powerful ways. First, the mere presence of tourists scares away illegal loggers. Second, it lets local people make good money as housekeepers, porters, and guides, supporting their families without damaging the forest. This is crucial in Madagascar, which is one of the world’s poorest countries.

The number of visitors to this part of Marojejy, however, dropped as the tourist camps slid into disrepair. This project will fund repairs to the bungalows and restrooms in the most popular camp.

Forest patrols will also increase. Right now, Madagascar National Parks does not have the resources to conduct substantial monitoring in this large, mountainous park. Villagers reported recent illegal logging, which resulted in arrests. They have agreed to conduct regular patrols, with equipment (GPS, camping gear, cameras) provided by the Lemur Conservation Foundation.

Project Updates

May 2020

The bungalows have been refurbished and are ready for guests. The project was finished under budget, and the remaining funds were used to buy bunk beds and bedding. Our field rep Erik Patel reports that community support has been strong for this project. All the people in this photo helped carry materials up to the site–a walk of many hours.

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January 2020

Sprucing up the ecotourism facilities is moving along very well. All four bungalows have been rebuilt and varnished (an important step to preserve wood in the rainforest). The crew is in the final phase of the work, building the new toilet and shower buildings.

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November 2019

In October, community members and staff from the Lemur Conservation Foundation and Marojejy National Park conducted another forest monitoring mission. They apprehended a few people who had cleared significant amounts of primary forest inside the park to plant vanilla, a problem in recent years. (Vanilla is now worth as much, pound for pound, as silver.)

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