Tavy or slash and burn has long been one of the main agricultural practices used to clear forest land prior to planting rice or other crops in Madagascar. This is no different in the area near the Betampona Nature Reserve, a unique biodiversity hotspot and Madagascar’s first protected area. The reserve’s border used to be directly surrounded by barren fields, making fire hazards and edge effects even more likely. Through a solid partnership, the NGO Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group, Madagascar National Parks and four village communities joined forces to create a protective buffer zone around the reserve through the forest restoration project, that started 12 years ago. In total, 400 villagers and local associations have planted almost 100,000 trees resulting in an overall better protection of the Reserve. The participants earn conservation credits which they can exchange for relevant tools and items that will improve their daily life. The initiative also includes a sustainable eco-agriculture component supporting farmers and is part of a wider integrated conservation and development programme.
When: Since 2007 (Phase 1)
Who: Four village communities, NGO Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group, Madagascar National Parks
How: Investing in a long-term trust relationships with the rural communities around the Betampona Nature reserve through an integrated approach
Benefits for nature:
Benefits for communities:
Elements of success: building long-term trusting relationships with communities through year-long awareness raising, providing incentives, capacity building of 8 nursery workers who are based within the villages
Remaining challenges: Getting legal protection of the protection zone through Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development. Erosion and wind damage problems particularly following cyclones, establishment of invasive plants interfering with natural forest regeneration and occasional ongoing slash and burn in the vicinity.
Sustainability: Continuous phases (I-VIII) since 2007. Follow up monitoring by nursery workers on planted parcels. Long term involvement of farmers and association. Additional benefits through wider conservation and development programme (education and eco-agriculture)