Around the world, there is an increasing tension over land between the needs of people and wildlife. But it doesn’t have to be like this. We work in partnership with communities and governments to achieve a fine balance between animal and human livelihoods in many fragile ecosystems.
As a direct result of our work, 399,655 hectares of natural habitats in Mauritius and Madagascar has been placed under legal protection: the equivalent of 562,402 football pitches.
These habitats, which include forests, wetlands and mangroves, are now protected areas in which certain human activities, such as mining or logging, are banned or restricted to allow animals to thrive.
Our end goal is to protect forests and wetlands to save species from extinction, but also so that they provide sustained benefits to local people.
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We’ve been working to achieve a balance between the conservation of threatened habitats and the livelihoods of impoverished communities in Madagascar.
Menabe Antimena contains one of the country’s largest tracts of deciduous dry forest, and is rich in unique animal species such as the Giant Jumping Rat. Local people rely on the forest for food, fuel, building materials and medicine. But between 1995 and 2000 around 5% of the forest was disappearing every year, either to large-scale commercial logging or to low-yield subsistence farming.
In 2006, the forest was given protected area status by the Madagascan government. We’ve been working with a local agency to build villagers’ capacity to manage areas of forest for which they now have legal rights and responsibility. We provide incentives for forest management in the form of rural development aid – such as schools, bicycles and training – and raise awareness in local communities on the benefits provided by the forest.
Thanks to some progressive thinking from the government and the resourcefulness of local people, deforestation has been significantly reduced in Menabe Antimena. The Giant Jumping Rat, whose population had been declining rapidly, is now recovering.