Washington, DC – On September 17, 2010 the Ramsar Convention
on Wetlands Secretariat in Gland, Switzerland, and Madagascar's Ministry of the
Environment and Forests declared the Nosivolo River as the country's 7th Ramsar
site. It is the first river in Madagascar to receive this designation. The new
Ramsar site encompasses 358,500ha, including the Nosivolo river and its entire
Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Conservation International, and our
local and regional partners have been working in the Nosivolo since 2005 to save
local endemic species from extinction and conserve the river for wildlife and
people. We began our conservation activities with a programme of scientific
research and village awareness, and have since expanded to incorporate a strong
community conservation and development component.
The Nosivolo is the most important river in Madagascar in terms of
biodiversity. Its crystal clear waters support 19 endemic fish species, four of
which (the Katria Katria katria, Songatana Oxylapia pollia, an
undescribed species of Bedotia called the Nosivolo Blue, and an
undescribed species of Rheocles) are found only in the Nosivolo and
nowhere else. The river begins at 1800m above sea level and extends for 130km,
over spectacular waterfalls and cascades down to 700m asl, where it joins the
Mangoro River before flowing out to the ocean.
The cichlid Oxylapia polli, Songatana in local Malagasy, is one of
the four locally endemic fish, and has been adopted as a conservation flagship
species by the district capital of Marolambo. Marolambo is the largest village
along the Nosivolo and the district capital where most of the local authorities
are based. The Songatana Festival organised by Durrell in 2006, was a key
component in promoting local pride and awareness of the conservation importance
of the Nosivolo. Over 1,000 local people took part, including a visit by the
Minister of the Environment.
Conservation activities have focused on determining the status and
distribution of the endemic fish species, in partnership with the South African
Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) and the Biology Department at the
University of Antananarivo (DBA), and on large scale community conservation and
development initiatives financed and supported by Conservation International's
Node programme and the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission (JOAC).
The Ramsar principle of conservation and wise use of wetlands toward
achieving sustainable development complements the vision of Durrell, CI and our
partners in the Nosivolo. Our goal is to reduce local overexploitation of the
river by creating opportunities for sustainable local development. We are
working together with regional and local partners to create a New Protected Area
along the Nosivolo to ensure the long term health of the river for the endemic
fish, and for the human population living near the river. Our central belief is
that a healthy river ecosystem will benefit both local communities and
"This is a huge success for the local community and for global conservation.
I hope it will create opportunities for conservation of other important rivers
in Madagascar," said the Deputy Secretary General for the Ramsar Convention on
Wetlands, Professor Nick Davidson.
Conservation International's Regional Vice President in Madagascar, Leon
Rajaobelina, said: "We are extremely proud of this achievement as this is the
culmination of years of work lead by the local communities that live along the
river basin to improve the management of the natural resources they depend on.
It is proof that healthy freshwater ecosystems are absolutely vital for
development and human well-being."
Through funding provided by Conservation International's Node programme,
Durrell has been implementing a project aimed at developing alternative
livelihoods along the Nosivolo River and within its watershed. Commenting on
this Richard Lewis Durrell's Director of Madagascan Programmes said "Since 2007,
our team of just two has been working in incredibly remote areas and we have
successfully implemented 138 micro-projects in 80 villages. These micro-projects
focus on improving methods for crop production to reduce exploitation pressure
of the river. To date, more than 2000 families have benefited from this support
and our teams are currently working with 6000 households to realise the next
phase of this programme by 2012."
Discussing the local involvement he continued "All of this work has been
accomplished through close collaboration with local government at the district
and village level. Eighty village conservation associations have been created to
carry out this work, and have been invaluable partners in realising conservation
activity at the ground level."
Linked to the development of local capacity and sustainable management of the
river, Durrell has also been improving public health and education among local
communities. Greater than 50 percent of the local people along the river are
infected with schistosomiasis. In 2007 and 2008, funding by the Jersey Overseas
Aid Commission was used by Durrell to provide medication to 4,080 people, for
treatment of this debilitating disease. This JOAC funding also provided roofing
and desks for 59 schools, improving education opportunities for local children.
The Nosivolo River represents Durrell's largest community conservation and
development effort in Madagascar. The recent designation of the Nosivolo as a
Ramsar site is a significant achievement, and a major advancement toward
conservation of Madagascar's most important river for endemic fish and for the
communities that rely on a healthy river for their survival.
For more information, supporting photography or to arrange an
interview please contact:
Head of Marketing
Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
Tel: 01534 860081
Patricia Yakabe Malentaqui
International Media Manager
Tel: office +1 (703) 341-2471 / mobile +1 (571) 225-8345
Notes to editors
Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
Conservation Trust is an international charity working globally to save species
from extinction. Headquartered in Jersey, Channel Islands, Durrell works in some
of the most threatened environments on the planet and has over 50 active field
projects in 14 countries around the world, focusing on critically endangered
species and highly threatened island ecosystems.
Durrell has a unique structure, based around three core pillars of
specialisation: a wildlife park in Jersey, field programmes around the world and
an International Training Centre. Durrell's aim is to address conservation
challenges where each of the three areas of the Trust can act in synergy.
Durrell has been working to save Madagascar's unique biodiversity for the
past 25 years. With a staff of almost 40 people working fulltime in eight
principle intervention sites around the country we focus on the most threatened
species in the most threatened ecosystems which are dry forest and wetlands. Our
approach to community-led conservation efforts have brought a measurable benefit
to the welfare of the people who are reliant the natural resources, which we aim
For more information visit www.durrell.org
Conservation International (CI)
Building upon a strong
foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers
societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature for the well-being of
humanity. With headquarters in Washington, DC, CI works in more than 40
countries on four continents.
For more information visit www.conservation.org