We are excited to announce that Conservation Fusion (CF) is a recent Disney Conservation Fund grant recipient, selected for our work to study wildlife, protect habitats and implement community conservation and education programs in Madagascar. Today, we would like to share some insights on our reforestation efforts in the eastern rainforests of Kianjavato. We are all about partnerships, and therefore, we work with the scientific team initiating the tree planting efforts and the local forest restoration experts through our partnership with the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership.
The island of Madagascar is big in many ways! First, it is the fourth largest island in the world, and second, it has experienced enormous loss in regards to the original forest cover, with more than 80% of the forest loss in the past 30 years, equating less than 10% of its forests remaining.Madagascar is also famous for it’s unique biodiversity, with 8 of every ten plants and animals found there occurring nowhere else on earth! The most well-known creatures on the island are lemurs, ranging from the mouse lemur, the size of a hamster; all the way to an Indri, about the size of a toddler!Today, there are over 111 different species of lemurs that call the shrinking forests their home. One special place to find lemurs is in the eastern rainforests of Kianjavato. Kianjavato hosts 8 species of lemurs, all of which are facing threats of extinction, according to their classification within the IUCN red list. Sadly, this rapid of loss of fauna and flora is even worsened by the poverty where more than 70% of Madagascar’s population (WorldBank report 2016) lives under the poverty line.
As an environmental educational organization, reversing these threats is challenging and the crucial question is; “how can we ensure protection and conservation of forests and lemurs whileensuring at the same time sustainable livelihoods for the local communities that are at the forefront of facing environmental degradation and can also benefit from well-conserved and restored forest?”
In partnership with the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership and with support from the Disney Conservation Fund, Conservation Fusion launched an innovative reforestation program to actively engage local communities in the restoration of the forests; everyone takes part, ranging from local women organizations, elders, students, teachers, guides, authority representations. Each year, our school partners in the community of Kianjavato (up to now there are 12) participate in tree planting events with more than 3,500 trees planted each day.The follow up and care of the planted seedlings are ensured by Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership’s staff, who are all from the local Kianjavato community.
For years now, thereforestation program has become a famous phraseused by the local Kianjavato community. They are becoming more and more aware of the importance of planting trees, restoring the environment and protecting local wildlife and plants. The people are learning that their participation in tree planting events is highly linked, not only to save and protect lemurs’ habitats, but importantly benefitting themselves, their children, and future generations. With key environmental messages printed on brochures designed by the Conservation Fusion communication team, students become our voices for conservation. They are expanding what they have learned and gained during our various school education programs within their own networks on the importance of reforestation. They shared joyfully and proudly what they learn and what they did during tree planting events. Those kids, even as little as they are in the community chain, are the most impactful agents that lead tangible changes for themselves and the forests. They learn that lemurs are seeds dispersers meaning that helping to save and protect lemurs habitats also means providing a greener future, providing more clean air, providing more medicines, providing more foods, protecting soils from erosion, and at the end of the day we all win by planting trees.
Thanks to the Disney Conservation Fund we are helping to reverse the decline of wildlife and also help local communities to thrive in putting at the heart of our actions the roles of young generations.