An innovative project in Madagascar pioneered a new model for managing the country’s wetlands while also supporting the communities that depend upon these ecosystems for their livelihood.
With support from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, BirdLife International engaged local community associations and industrial food producers in protecting the Mahavavy-Kinkony Wetlands Complex.
The organization also worked with government officials and representatives from local communities to establish a collaborative structure for managing the area.
In January 2007, protection for the area was assured when the government of Madagascar included the wetlands in the declaration of an additional 1 million hectares of new protected areas in the island nation. It is the largest wetlands area to be added to the country’s growing roster of protected areas.
The 268,236-hectare complex in the Madagascar and Indian Ocean Islands Hotspot includes lakes, rivers, marshes, shorelines, and mangroves. It is home to 12 globally threatened species of birds, reptiles, and fish. The threatened birds include Endangered Madagascar teals (Anas bernieri), Madagascar sacred ibises (Threskiornis bernieri), and Sakalava rails (Amaurornis olivieri).
There is a “very high level of threat to many species, as the habitats are under so many pressures,” said Roger Safford, program and projects manager for BirdLife International.
Previously, Madagascar’s protected areas did not lend themselves to protecting a large wetlands complex inhabited by a large human population, Safford explained. BirdLife International was one of the many organizations that helped the country’s government create the new approach.
The new model incorporates mechanisms for monitoring and conserving biological resources, as well as enabling local communities to participate in and, ultimately, directly manage these efforts.
The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a global program that provides grants to nongovernmental organizations and other private sector partners to protect Earth’s biologically richest and most endangered areas. As one of the founders, CI administers the program. The other partners are the French Development Agency, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank.
Read about another CEPF wetlands project: Providing Hope for Laguna del Tigre.