Project Ifotaka – Madagascar phase three

Barry Ferguson

Project Ifotaka, initiated in 1998 and runner up in the BP Conservation Programme in 1999, is based in the community of Ifotaka in the southern eco-region of Madagascar. This region has been widely identified as being under-represented in current conservation programs (Seddon et al., 2000; Du Puy and Moat, 1996). The Ifotaka area is at the edge of the ‘Ifotaka-Tranomaro-Behara-Andohahela Corridor’ and has been identified by WWF Madagascar as being of particular conservation importance. The commune of Ifotaka contains a great wealth of biodiversity and cultural tradition. The valuable role of the traditional healer (the Ombiasy) is diminishing in significance, as is the traditional respect for the forest. The biodiversity is at great risk from human threats (including deforestation from construction and cultivation) and from hunting of species such as lemurs, fosa and radiated tortoises. To date, the project has conducted baseline research in ecology and anthropology in 1999, and educative programs in 2000 and has developed excellent relationships with the communities of the area. For the work detailed in this proposal, the key principle is that the research, education and development be usefully integrated to maximize their impact on the conservation of Ifotaka. The Team of 19 Malagasy, 11 British students and volunteers working with local communities will carry out the following work from June 2001 – March 2002:

  • Research – ecological effects of cutting of fields in the forest; cataloging and laboratory analysis of medicinal plants; and quantification of the use of the forest resources
  • Education – Production of educative videos and posters for preliminary use in Ifotaka (and potential use across the ecoregion); visits to all schools across the commune to implement conservation education programs; and a school-for-school link with the UK
  • Management Strategy Development – Working with the Marine Association (HERA) and the 14 Fokontanys to use demographic research and Arial photos to assist them in developing their own resource management strategy. To help with the introduction of some basic infrastructures for researchers and potentially for tourists

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