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Sainte Luce and Ebakika Villages

© Adam Marks


Conservation benefit:Reconnect coastal forest fragments by creating forest corridor and firebreak

Community benefit:Firefighting training and equipment

Date Approved: 02.2022


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

Littoral forests are one of the most threatened ecosystems in Madagascar, an island country where almost all ecosystems are at serious risk. These forests once probably formed a long unbroken band along the southeastern coast. Over the years, however, fire, slash-and-burn agriculture, logging, and mining have fragmented the forests. An estimated 90% of littoral forest cover has been lost.

The Sainte Luce Littoral Forest (SLLF), in southeastern Madagascar, is one of those damaged forests, and its loss imperils the area’s extraordinary biodiversity. In the SLLF, 98% of the plant species are endemic to Madagascar. At least 42 plant species and 14 invertebrate species are endemic to the region. The SLFF is home to four endangered lemur species. Other critically endangered species include a gecko, an arboreal frog, a palm, and a tree on the very brink of extinction. It is entirely possible that many species in the area could be lost before we even learn of their existence.

SEED Madagascar has a multiyear plan to save the Sainte Luce forest, which covers 2,825 acres but has been carved into 17 fragments. This project, a standalone part of that larger effort, will create a reforested corridor uniting fragments of the original forest. SEED has already created four similar corridors. These corridors allow many species to cross the dry and sparsely vegetated gaps between the fragments, helping to maintain their populations.

To create the corridor, local people are planting acacia seedlings, rapidly growing trees that create the right soil and shade conditions for reestablishing native plants later. A firebreak on either side of the forest corridor protects it from wildfire, a constant danger in the dry southeast. Local law (dina) protects the corridor, and a community forest patrol oversees enforcement.

Members of the Sainte Luce and Ebakika communities are receiving education and training, concentrating on fire prevention. SEED will also provide simple firefighting tools, such as locally made fire beaters—basically, poles with rubber flaps. These benefits may seem small, but fire is an existential threat to the local people. About 90% of them are subsistence farmers or fishers who live below the international poverty line.

Our project partner, SEED, has worked in the Sainte Luce community for more than 20 years. Seacology has worked with SEED on other successful projects in Madagascar.

Seacology made this grant in memory of Edward O. Wilson, the eminent evolutionary biologist who documented how habitat fragmentation causes species loss. Dr. Wilson served on Seacology’s Scientific Advisory Board until his death in December 2021.

This project was supported by our 2022 crowdfunding campaign, launched on Earth Day. 

Project Updates

July 2023

This project, finished after a year, has already had a big impact. Our project partner distributed 144 fire beaters (made from locally sourced wooden poles and recycled rubber), and 90% of households have already used them to put out fires. The forest corridor and firebreak have been established, and 726 acacia seedlings were planted.

In April, our project partners saw four red-collared brown lemurs (two females, two males) crossing a forest corridor established earlier. This is exciting evidence of the effectiveness of the corridors.

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February 2023

Community members have planted acacia seedlings along the new forest corridor. To promote growth and protect the corridor from fire, they have also pulled weeds and replaced dead seedlings. (But because the seedling survival rate is so good, they don’t expect to need to replant more.) They cleared another five meters on either side of the corridor to act as a firebreak.

Three community fire wardens were appointed and trained to lead their community’s bush fire response, and public events are promoting fire mitigation and prevention strategies. Local forest managers distributed 50 simple fire beaters, made from locally sourced wooden poles and recycled rubber, and showed local people how to use them. In September and October, the Ebakika and Sainte Luce communities used the fire beaters to effectively fight two large fires and several smaller ones. At the communities’ request, another 94 fire beaters and gloves were purchased.

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May 2022

Seacology supporters chipped in to raise more money for this project through our annual Earth Day crowdfunding effort. The extra funds will allow for expansion of the forest corridors and firebreaks. They will also make it possible for our project partner to offer more training to community members. There will be more outreach, too, including celebrations on World Lemur Day!


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June 2022

Land for the forest corridor has been acquired and cleared, and 726 acacia seedlings have been planted. As they grow, the trees will provide cover and improve soil conditions, allowing native species to flourish. Another five meters have been cleared on either side of the corridor to act as a firebreak. Damaged plots in the nursery have been repaired, and 929 acacia seeds have been sown there for future planting. Local fire management groups will test a prototype fire beater, made from locally sourced wooden poles and recycled rubber, over the coming months.

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