Missouri Botanical Garden's restoration activities in Madagascar during 2010.
The Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) supports locally-based programs in more than a dozen countries. The largest of these programs, built over three decades, is in Madagascar, where our organization currently has several offices and over 60 Malagasy members of staff and another 70 contractual workers, supported by a single technical advisor. For most of this period MBG's Madagascar Program has focused on taxonomic research, botanical exploration, and in-country capacity building including training in field botany. Garden staff and associates, many of whom received their training from MBG, have completed scores of taxonomic revisions, and MBG botanists have conducted one of the world's most productive modern field inventory programs, which has led to numerous significant discoveries and a vastly expanded understanding of the island's remarkably rich and highly threatened flora. However, towards the end of the last millennium, MBG staff became increasingly concerned that plant conservation efforts in Madagascar were far from adequate and that we could help rectify this urgent situation, indeed that we had a growing obligation to do so. The urgency of this challenge prompted the MBG program to conduct a series of strategic planning sessions in 2002 during which we identified four key types of action to improve the conservation status of the Malagasy flora: 1) analysis of botanical information to assist in conservation planning and decision-making (including with respect to climate change and its projected consequences); 2) improved advocacy for the conservation of Malagasy plants; 3) species-focused conservation of plants on the very brink of extinction; and 4) community-based activities at priority areas for plant conservation (PAPe). The conservation of PAPes requires a diverse range of activities including the restoration of natural capital.
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