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Communities support the conservation of the forest and receive 50% of carbon revenues to invest in development projects.
Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world, and more than 75% of the 22 million inhabitants are heavily dependent on the country’s diminishing natural resource base for their survival. The Makira Natural Park, which is managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), is the largest protected area in Madagascar. It has the highest diversity of Madagascar’s emblematic lemur species, and contains the largest remaining stands of low-to-mid elevation tropical rainforest. Despite its ecosystem importance, the Makira Natural Park has experienced an estimated forest loss of 1,500 hectares per year from 1995 to 2005. The Makira project, covering the vast majority of Makira Natural Park, is 360,000 hectares of dense primary forest. Around that is a ‘protection zone’ of 350,000+ hectares which is where the majority of local communities live. In the absence of the project it is projected that forest loss would continue at an accelerated rate.
In addition to biodiversity protection, the goal of the project is to engage with and improve the livelihoods of approximately 50,000 people living within 120 villages around the project area. Working with WCS, local communities co-manage the Makira Natural Park through a network of community associations, while managing the park’s buffer zone through resource management contracts established with the government.
The project land is owned by the Republic of Madagascar, which has appointed the WCS to manage the area and address the deforestation pressures. WCS is a New York-based conservation organisation that was established in 1895, and that works with national governments, universities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and dedicated individuals around the world to increase understanding and awareness of the importance of wildlife through the establishment and strengthening of protected areas. WCS has been working as a research and conservation organisation in Madagascar since 1993, and has been present in the Makira area since 2003.
Further details on alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals
- Decent work and economic growth: A community managed eco-lodge has been constructed in the park buffer zone and plans for additional infrastructure are underway. The project helps build links between producer associations and high-end international clients, including chocolatiers, handbag manufacturers and fine-foods retailers. The project has obtained “Wildlife Friendly” certification for products produced in the buffer zone around Makira and for eco-tourism activities. In 2014, the average household income had more than doubled since the start of the project.
- Life on land: Of any country in Africa, Madagascar contains the greatest number of total animal species classified as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable, under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the third largest number of plant species under the same IUCN classification1. The protection of the forest is essential to ensure the species populations found in the area are able to survive. Ecological monitoring is central to the project’s design and activities, and includes monitoring of forest habitat loss and fragmentation, forest corridors and connectivity, and species loss. The project implements a field-based monitoring plan using a revolutionary real-time monitoring system (SMART conservation software) with local community members, whereby communities are trained to monitor certain indicators on a quarterly basis. Restoration of degraded areas of forests is carried out with the participation of local communities to enable the movement of flora and fauna through the area.
1. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (2017) The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, Available from http://www.iucnredlist.org/, Accessed 6/8/2016