RNC Madagascar


RNC Madagascar

RNC initiatives of the Missouri Botanical Garden - Madagascar

Chris Birkinshaw, Technical Advisor MBG-Madagascar, (chris.birkinshaw@mobot-mg.org), Pete Lowry, Curator and Head of the Africa andMadagascar Department of MBG (Pete.Lowry@mobot.org), James Aronson, Curator and co-coordinator of the RNC Alliance (james.aronson@cefe.cnrs.fr), Adolphe Lehavana, Reza Ludovic, Mamisoa Andrianjafy, Fortunat Rakotoarivony and Jean-Jacques Rasolofomirino (MBG-Madagascar)

13 March 2009

Introduction
MBG has been active in Madagascar since the early 1970s, with a permanent presence in the country since 1983. For most of this period, the organization has devoted its efforts to botanical exploration, providing a taxonomic framework for the Malagasy flora, and valorizing botanical information for the international scientific community as well as to public and private sector decision-makers concerned with conservation and sustainable use and management of resources. MBG also offers technical assistance to the Malagasy Government in the setting up of the new network of Protected Areas (SAPM), an ambitious program launched in 2003 that aims increase the total area managed primarily for conservation from 1.5 to over 6 million hectares (nearly 10% of the country).

In light of the severe problems faced by the Malagasy biota and its people, who are heavily dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods, in 2002 the MBG staff decided to become more actively involved in conservation. Consequently, a multi-faceted strategy was designed that includes speciesfocused initiatives, site-focused projects at botanically important sites, and proactive advocacy for plant conservation within the country. Since this time, MBG-Madagascar has launched on-the-ground conservation activities at eleven priority areas for plant conservation, distributed throughout the country (see Table 1 and Figure 1). At each of site, the MBG is developing and promoting a community-based program that aims to combine and integrate biodiversity conservation and economic development.

In the educational sector, the MBG team has long been involved in providing practical instruction in a variety of fields related to plants and applied conservation, and has directed many graduate students from Malagasy universities. In October 2007, in collaboration with the Université Nord – Antsiranana in northern Madagascar and the Malagasy NGO Fanamby, MBG provided a ten month training course in applied conservation management to 12 Malagasy students. These students have now graduated and eight of them have found employment with conservation organizations where they are making good use of their newly acquired knowledge and skills. We hope that this course will serve as a model for future development of parallel training in the closely related field of ecological restoration for university students as well as forestry agents and engineers.

At four of MBG’s conservation sites, Mahabo (Farafangana), Analalava (Foulpointe), Ankafobe (Ankazobe), and Vohibe (Ambalabe), where we have been active for longest, we are already applying RNC principles and techniques to achieve conservation success. In this article we provide a summary of these activities.

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