Madagascar is an amazing and diverse country, home to some amazing wildlife and incredible but highly threatened biodiversity. Starting with lemurs. Slipping down a very slippery slope towards extinction, 94 of the 103 lemur species are now at risk of extinction making lemurs probably the most endangered of any group of vertebrates... These famous but endangered lemurs of Madagascar are only part of the bigger picture, there is also lots of other wildlife that is found no where else on earth. With this extraordinary, yet highly threatened biodiversity, the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar is a global conservation priority. The country encompasses habitats ranging from tropical rainforests to deciduous dry forests, spiny deserts, reefs, islands, sea grass beds, mangrove forests, and estuaries. These ecosystems places a stunning array of wildlife species, many of which are found nowhere else. Unfortunately, poverty and unsustainable resource use have lead to large-scale forest clearing and only a small fraction of the original forest remains. Many species have become extinct, including the magnificent elephant birds that once roamed the sand dunes.
It is sometimes forgotten, but Madagascar is also home to around 20 million people, the Malagasy people. Unfortunately according to all criteria used by international development agencies, Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world. Annual income barely reaches US$ 400; more than three quarters of households live under the poverty threshold, and the country ranks 143rd in the world in terms of human development index (UNDP).
Recently, there have been political problems in Madagascar that have served to destabilize the country, put tens of thousands directly into unemployment, weaken the rule of law and undermine many decades of good environmental stewardship. The present Malagasy government has followed a government of transition which was not recognized by most of the world, and democracy is fragile. Much of the income for Madagascar in recent decades came from foreign donors, but because of non-recognition of the government, most external funding was stopped during the transition, and only tentative returns to normality have occured since the return to democracy. A large fraction of official aid remains on partial hold by donors. This has led to significant cuts, sharp rises in poverty, waves of famine in some parts of the country, reduction in foreign investment, illegal exploitation of forests and cutting of precious wood & killing of animals in protected areas, a sharp decline in the delivery of social services such as health services, and further deterioration of growth prospects. Poverty now touches 77% of Malagasy households, which is the highest rate in Africa.
Little wonder, in the face of so many troubles, that the people have little time for conservation.We have a small solution in one small part of Madagascar. It addresses both poverty and conservation.
We a small group working in Madagascar that is made up of local conservation and development specialists and local community representatives. We are called Association FILANA. Filana, in the Malagasy language, means “need”. We are a registered non-profit association and our organization is interested equally in the conservation and protection of biodiversity and the development and well-being of local people. In fact, we believe the two are connected and both must be addressed for either to be sustainable. We manage a protected forest in a beautiful and unique part of this unique country, the south east corner, at Sainte Luce. Sainte Luce was the site of the first ever French colony in Madagascar which lasted from 1642 to 1644. It is a seaside village perched right on the edge of the Indian Ocean, where local people make a living from fishing and (in the past) from forest resources. The Sainte Luce Reserve is a part of a much larger beachfront forest, in fact it is the last forest that meets the sea in the whole south east of Madagascar, and because the forests of Madagascar are so high in local endemics (species only found locally, sometimes only found in one small forest fragment) our reserve is unique on earth.
It is our vision to develop conservation as an economic motor to help local communities, to engage with local people, and to illustrate that conservation is a force for good and a force for community development.
To achieve our goals, we have developed a series of small projects that eventually we hope will fit together as a larger community conservation and development project, however, we are starting small and all of our projects have been designed to stand alone and work even if no other part of the plan is funded. Our main needs now are to properly guard the reserve, improve our research camp so it is useful to researchers from all over the world, promote sustainable tourism to the reserve to create employment for local villagers, and develop project ideas with the local village.
If you are interested in knowing more about our projects and the work that we hope to achieve in our corner of Madagascar, please read more of our site and contact us.
Where the forest meets the sea in south east Madagascar
Who, why, where, what...?
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Registered non-profit association:
N0 095 DIST/TOL/AG/ASS