Due to its unique nature, Madagascar belongs to the most important biodiversity hotspots in the world. At the same time, Madagascar is one of the world’s poorest countries. Continuous and extensive logging of forests with the associated degradation of soil threaten the island’s nature and also agriculture, the source of livelihood for millions of inhabitants. The island that used to be verdant is now turning red as forests are cleared, revealing the unfertile red land underneath.
The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation – FANC has been working in Madagascar since 2011. The distress that the island’s nature and inhabitants are undergoing is not the only reason why FANC decided to extend its activities even this far. Smooth cooperation with local actors is always vital in enabling the projects to achieve permanent results. Consequently, the good contacts that FANC already had with local bodies of nature conservation played a decisive role in the launch of the projects in Madagascar.
FANC has two projects – Manondroala and Torotorofotsy – in Madagascar. Read more below.
The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation has been operating in Madagascar since 2011 to promote protection of forests. The Manondroala project started in 2012 in the rainforest zone of eastern Madagascar with the support for development cooperation granted by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. During the project, a map portal showing the state of forests has been developed. It supports the participation of local communities in the decision-making related to environment and land use, which is crucial for the progress of equality and democracy in the whole of Madagascar. The main objective of the project has been to develop in collaboration with local actors a holistic model of activities and network for preserving the forests.
Since the beginning of 2019, the Manondroala project has been focusing on the mapping and restoration of the dry tropical forests in western Madagascar. To achieve permanent results, we support local level actors and environmental administration both at local and national level with diverse methods.
Reforestation against fragmentation
Along with mapping, FANC has supported forest restoration in Andasibe in the middle of Madagascar’s rainforest zone. With the help of reforestation, badly fragmented patches of forest have been connected with the isolated home forests of the threatened species – such as the world’s last indris and sifakas – living there. By means of reforestation, we also strive to prevent the spread of invasive species that are harmful to the original forest ecosystem. In connection with forestation, our partner Association Mitsinjo has organised environmental education for hundreds of schoolchildren, students and tourists.
Since 2019, the focus of the Manondroala project has been on mapping and reforesting dry tropical forests in western Madagascar. Information on the Manondroala methodology is distributed into new areas and local communities are familiarised with mapping through trainings. The existing network between administration and civil society is strengthened in order to promote democratic land use and to monitor the state of the forests.
The restoration methods of humid tropical forests developed by Mitsinjo are made known and information about the best practices is shared with experts and environmental administration as well as with local groups that are restoring forests. Our partner will start an expertise centre in Andasibe where training in forest restoration will be given to researchers, students and other interested parties. With other stakeholders, we will gather information on the best restoration methods and share it with different actors. In addition, we are funding forest restoration carried out by various partner organisations in dry regions and also the monitoring of these areas basing on methods of remote sensing.
Olli Turunen, Technical Advisor
+358 40 755 3815
Laura Blomberg, Project Coordinator
+358 40 144 0291
The FANC project for protecting the Torotorofotsy wetlands began in January 2015 with funds granted by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. After hard work, the threatened wetlands obtained an official status as a protected area during the same year.
Home for the endangered
The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation and the Korkeasaari Zoo collaborate to protect the endangered Golden mantella. The Torotorofotsy project run by FANC aims at securing the home wetlands of the amphibian. Nevertheless, it is important to safeguard the preservation of the species even in captivity because of the threat of extinction caused by the degradation of the natural habitat.
Comprising an area of nearly 10.000 hectares, the Torotorofotsy wetlands offer a habitat to several threatened species, such as the extremely endangered Golden mantella. The natural marshes have been wiped out for the most part to give way to rice fields. The total disappearance of the wetland would make adaptation to climate change difficult and weaken the food security of the area. The marshes have a significant role in the preservation of biodiversity, erosion prevention and in the regional water management.
Torotorofotsy is a Ramsar wetland i.e. it belongs to the important wetlands protected by the international Ramsar Convention signed in 1971. Wetlands belong to the most threatened habitats in the world, therefore special attention has to be paid to their protection. Our project concentrates on improving the position of women and children and it aims at strengthening the possibilities of the local population to adapt to the effects of the climate change.
Influencing the origins of problems
The main objective of the Torotorofotsy project is to protect the marshes by involving the local population in the implementation. It is also essential to support the sustainable development of the local communities. Possibilities to restore the weakened parts of the wetlands in a socio-economically sustainable manner will be examined. Furthermore, outreach activities will be carried out with the aim at influencing the causes of the problem and securing the livelihood of future generations.
Our project specially supports
- adoption of rice growing techniques that require less area under cultivation
- sustainable agriculture (e.g. cultivation of potatoes and vegetables, poultry farming)
- environmental education carried on by Mitsinjo
- development of ecotourism
- the handicraft association founded by women from neighbouring villages
The farmer families participating in the project are eager to get training. Their success serves as an example and as a powerful incentive to others to switch to cultivation methods that are more environmentally friendly. People in Torotorofotsy have indeed become increasingly interested and many new participants have joined the activity. The abundance of cultivated plant species also diversifies the diet of the families and thereby promotes health.
Local women make handicraft using plant materials that grow in the wetland. Both local and international markets are looked for the products. Through intensive trainings, women have been able to improve the quality of their handicraft and refine their traditional skills. The handicraft association offers women an opportunity to get personal income thus supporting children’s possibilities to go to school.
The handicrafts are made in a sustainable manner, because the plants used for the manufacture are produced in a nursery from where they are transferred to the wetland. This is part of the restoration activitity included in the Torotorofotsy project. Degraded forest and other vegetation around the core areas of the wetland are being rehabilitated. Native tree species are grown in Mitsinjo’s nursery in Menalamba and annually, they are being planted in an area surpassing 10 hectares. Altogether, 15 hectares of forest and wetlands are being restored in a year.
Laura Blomberg, Project Coordinator
+358 40 144 0291