In Madagascar, people are discovering the ways in which protecting lemurs also helps them provide for their families. In Liberia, standing forests could become a beacon of national hope, rather than a source of short-term cash.
"One approach, sometimes called ‘Growth Poles’ or ‘Green Economy,’ allows us to be explicit about linking conservation to growth,” says Eric Coppenger, Director of Resource Strategy for CI’s Africa and Madagascar programs.
IN DEPTH: Discover CI's strategy to protect forests in Madagascar.
"We and our community partners understand that conservation must improve local lives to be sustainable. With the whole world paying attention due to the global financial meltdown, we have a precious opportunity – to encourage our leaders to fully integrate conservation as a core element of long-term, equitable economic growth."
Creating a New Locus for Opportunity
“I didn’t finish high school because my parents didn’t have enough money for my studies … but fortunately we have Conservation International, which helps me understand the environment. That’s how I developed an interest in conservation,” says Claude Rakotoarivelo, a local reforestation project coordinator for CI.
Rakotoarivelo lives in Madagascar and works on CI’s large-scale Andasibe project. Andasibe is a complex set of programs designed to demonstrate the ways in which focusing economic development around a single asset – like the forests indris (Indri indri), considered the largest of all living lemurs, call home – can benefit people, economies and the environment at the same time.
Projects like this build economic opportunity based on biological diversity – from carbon markets to freshwater to ecotourism – in some of the poorest places on earth.
Equal Opportunity Based in Nature
For over 20 years, CI has worked in some of the least developed locations on Earth. Places where short-term financial decisions like intensive logging often lead to great gaps between rich and poor.
LEARN MORE: CI's success depends on our relationships with local communities. Find out more about how these unique partnerships work.
CI’s programs seek to develop long-term economic policies that help people, attract investment in local economic development, and protect these regions’ natural biological wealth.
By developing a sustainable natural economic “engine,” local people are more likely to invest in their land alongside their efforts to improve their lives. If successful, such economies will raise human quality of life without stripping away natural wealth.
CI has tested this model in Madagascar, Liberia, Guyana, Indonesia, and in many other areas of the world. We believe that actively linking economic development to conservation of nature can deliver powerful results, from healthier ecosystems and improved agricultural production to employment opportunities, a greater role in public decision-making by traditionally underrepresented people, and greater resilience to the impacts of natural disasters, economic uncertainty, and climate change.
“I’m like the people who live here, we used the forest the same way, for slash and burn agriculture,” says Rakotoarivelo. “But when I see the wrong destruction so I change my mind. I have the mind of a conservationist.”
With CI and our partners across the world, Rakotoarivelo will have ever greater opportunities to spread the word.
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