Madagascar Reforestation project
Madagascar has lost more than 90% of its primary forests, impacting people living in extreme poverty the most.
Deforestation has long been an issue for Madagascar. It is one of the world’s top biodiversity conservation priorities because of its high concentration of endemic species and severe habitat loss rates.
Furthermore, in the coastal zone, mangrove deforestation destabilizes the coastline, increasing the vulnerability of coastal communities to storms and weather events. In fact, they are becoming more frequent and intense due to human-induced climate change.
In upland dry deciduous forests, deforestation threatens one of the world’s rarest and most diverse forest systems. This project has been initiated in response to the large-scale loss of mangroves and upland forests in Madagascar. As of today, it has successfully planted mangrove and dry deciduous trees by working collaboratively with different communities.
This project has full support from national, local, and tribal governments to reforest large areas of mangrove and dry deciduous forests along the coast and inland areas.
The local community also receives training and financial support to collect mangrove propagules, strategically plant trees in coastal mangrove systems and upland dry deciduous forests. The latter have been heavily degraded or deforested.
Antsanitia Mangrove Planting Site
Akalamboro Planting Site
Coordinates: 15°37’15.47”S, 46°26’22.70”E Site Description
Antsanitia is a vital mangrove estuary that needs long-term protection and restoration. The project site lies along the northwest coast of Madagascar, 15 miles north of the regional capital of Mahajanga.
The project area has a deep-water mangrove estuary that opens to the sea. A large swaths of mangrove forest surrounds it. The estuary is a vital fish nursery for the surrounding ocean and barrier reefs. Moreover, it’s an important fishing ground for local Malagasy.
It is abundant in giant barracuda, mangrove snapper, jacks, trevally, grouper, stingrays, and various other types of fish. It is also an essential fishery for shrimp, crab, and shellfish and provides habitat to different birds.
Threats and Reforestation Efforts
Charcoal producers and tree poachers have targeted the mangrove channel and forest beyond. Over the last ten years, these threats have had a tremendous impact on mangrove forest, and it’s dwindling quickly. This initiative is aiming at actively planting native mangrove species such as Avicennia marina, Rhizophora mucronata, Ceriops tagal, and Bruguiera gymnorrhiza to restore the estuary.
Both the government and local Malagasy communities oppose to charcoal production and illegal wood harvesting. They support instead the long-term conservation and restoration of these sites. As a result of these reforestation activities, they commit themselves to protect what remains of the old-growth mangrove forest and plant areas that have been illegally cleared.
Coordinates: 16°12’34.48”S, 44°59’26.88”E Site Description
This restoration area stands on a lowland mangrove forest along the Akalamboro Estuary surrounding the Akalamboro community in northwest Madagascar. The northern edge of this estuary is part of the Baie de Baly National Park. Before starting the project, the mangrove forests found in this area were severely impacted by deforestation and forest degradation. This was due to charcoal production and wood collection for cooking, construction, and others.
The mangrove forest is unique in that it is a deep-water canal that meets up with an extensive, freshwater river system. This makes it a vital nursery for numerous fish species, abundant Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus), and multiple bird species, including the endangered Madagascar sacred ibis (Threskiornis bernieri). It provides habitat for the critically-endangered giant sawfish (Pristis pristis), once prolific in these estuaries. The mangrove forest runs adjacent to a fragmented dry deciduous forest with many healthy patches. The grey mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus) is commonly seen at night and during the day. Van der Decken’s sifakas (Propithecus deckenii) are regularly seen jumping through the mangrove and dry deciduous forests.
Reforestation and Protection Efforts in Akalamboro
With the help of sponsors and the active participation from the Akalamboro community, this project aims to support mangrove reforestation and forest protection to bring back the forest’s vitality in this area. The project supports local communities to plant and manage mangrove forests on community land surrounding the village. It offers long-term employment to 7 local communities and livelihood improvements. At the same time, it protects the critical biodiversity that relies on mangrove forests to survive. Farmers actively plant native mangrove species as Avicennia marina, Rhizophora mucronata, Ceriops tagal, and Bruguiera gymnorrhiza to restore the estuary.
Vilamatsa Planting Site
Mangaroa/Besely Planting Site
Coordinates: 16°16’17.09”S, 44°26’47.66”E Site Description
Vilamatsa restoration area it’s on Madagascar’s farthest western point near Cape St. Andre and is a lowland mangrove forest surrounding the Vilamatsa community. Before this project began, the mangrove forests found in this area were severely impacted by deforestation and forest degradation from charcoal production and wood collection for cooking, construction, and other purposes. This community was eager to be a part of the mangrove reforestation initiative in Madagascar for years because of the success of the nearby Mahabana Estuary. The Vilamatsa community is a trusted and committed partner in the long-term reforestation and protection of this important estuary.
Mangrove Reforestation in Vilamatsa
With the help of sponsors and the active participation from the Vilamatsa community, the mangrove reforestation and forest protection project aims to bring back the forest’s vitality in this area. The project supports local communities to plant and manage mangrove forests on community land surrounding the village, offers long-term employment to local communities and livelihood improvements while protecting the critical biodiversity that relies on mangrove forests to survive. Farmers actively plant native mangrove species such as Avicennia marina, Rhizophora mucronata, Ceriops tagal, and Bruguiera gymnorrhiza to restore the estuary.
Coordinates: 15°52’21.03”S, 46°30’32.33”E Site Description
The Besely Dry Deciduous project lies between Route 4 National Road (RN4) and the Betsiboka River Estuary, 10 miles due east from the coast in northwest Madagascar. The site was initially identified in partnership with the Ministry of the Environment in 2013. Since then, the initiative in Madagascar has dramatically expanded the planting work.
This site was once covered with flourishing dry deciduous forest harboring many endemic species, including eight lemur species. Madagascar’s dry deciduous forests are one of the world’s richest and most unique dry forests with over 800 tree species. Many of them are also endemic to the island nation. Unfortunately, dry deciduous forests are also severely threatened and in need of active restoration and protection. Like many other sites in the surrounding landscape, fire, uncontrolled grazing, and slash-and-burn agriculture had completely converted the grasslands when the reforestation work began.
With sponsors’ help and active participation from the local community, the Madagascar reforestation project started to bring back the forest’s vitality in this area. The planting teams use a planting palette of over 60 different species (pioneer, baobab, and agroforestry species) and diverse planting methods. The long-term goal is to restore the entire site and expand reforestation efforts along the RN4 corridor.