In Madagascar, the government is beginning the third phase of its national Environmental Action Plan, with an ambitious five-year program of conservation and sustainable management activities. Today, about 2.7 percent of Madagascar's land area (16,131 km²) is officially protected in 46 legally protected areas, including national parks, strict nature reserves established to conserve ecosystems and special reserves designed to protect a particular species or a group of species. At the World Parks Congress in September 2003, the president of Madagascar, Marc Ravalomanana announced plans to triple protected area coverage over the next five years and asked for $50 million in assistance from the international community to do so. In the first six months following this announcement, $22 million in commitments were pledged by international and local conservation organizations, international development agencies, multilateral development banks and national governments to a Biodiversity Trust Fund that was created in January 2005.
In 2001, Birdlife International identified 141 Important Bird Areas (IBA) covering about 54,806 km² within the Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands Hotspot. More recently, Conservation International and other partners in Madagascar expanded upon this work to identify a total of 132 Key Biodiversity Areas based on the distribution of globally threatened species covering eight taxa: mammals, birds amphibians, reptiles, freshwater fish, arthropods, gastropods and plants. Many of the Key Biodiversity Areas have been identified as potential conservation sites for tripling the protected area network in Madagascar.
These activities to identify and safeguard the hotspot's remaining natural habitats are being implemented hand-in-hand with projects that maximize and demonstrate the value of this conservation to the country. For example, in much of Madagascar the watershed value provided by conservation of the remaining forests is of enormous economic value to the surrounding countryside. In some Key Biodiversity Areas, ecotourism has provided a viable source of income for local communities, such as through the famous guides association in Andasibe, near Perinet (Analamazaotra) Special Reserve.
On the other Indian Ocean Islands, significantly less natural habitat is designated for protection, although the few protected areas that do exist represent almost the entirety of remaining natural habitat on the islands, with the exception of the Comoros. (Not true for the Comores) There are about 208 km² of terrestrial protected areas in the Seychelles (46 percent of the land area, including two World Heritage Sites), while Rénion has 21 protected areas totaling 231 km². Although the Comoros currently have no terrestrial protected areas, there is a plan under development to establish three terrestrial national parks, in Mount Karthala on Grand Comore, Ntringui in Anjouan and on Moheli, as well as two additional marine national parks to complement that already existing on Moheli.
Efforts at species-focused conservation represent important progress for the future of several unique species. A number of lemur species have been bred successfully in captivity, and, in 1997, the first lemur reintroduction program introduced captive-born black and white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata, EN) into the Betampona Nature Reserve. There are very successful combined captive breeding and community conservation programs for several species of tortoise. The Indian Ocean Islands also boast a number of threatened bird species that have been recovered from certain extinction: the pink pigeon (Streptopelia mayeri, EN), Mauritius parakeet (Psittacula eques, CR), Mauritius kestrel (Falco punctatus, VU), Rodrigues fody (Foudia flavicans, VU), Seychelles warbler (Acrocephalus sechellensis, VU), and Seychelles magpie-robin (Copyschus sechellarum, CR).