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Cycle 6 (2017 Deadline)

Community-based monitoring and management of Madagascar’s National Park protected areas

PI: Lalatiana Randriamiharisoa,, Madagascar National Parks
U.S. Partner: Brett Scheffers, University of Florida
Project dates: December 2017 - November 2020

Project Overview:

6-134_Jan-Mar 2018
Photo courtesy of PI Lalatiana Randriamiharisoa
Madagascar National Parks (MNP) has a mandate to manage and conserve its protected area network of more than 2 million hectares of land; therefore, MNP needs efficient ways to collect data that informs its management practices. However, the data collected so far are disparate and are do not cover the diversity of ecosystems under the park system’s purview, a problem that might be rectified by tapping into the biodiversity knowledge of local communities and MNP rangers. Thus, this PEER project focuses on improving and streamlining MNP’s data collection process via integration of local communities. Protected area managers need scientific data and indicators to inform conservation decisions. The project addresses this critical issue by providing local communities the opportunity to participate in the conservation of their local protected areas. Integrating a community-based approach for monitoring biodiversity and regional climate patterns provides major biodiversity payoffs in creating a local economy tied to biodiversity monitoring, which creates value for biodiversity outside of traditional natural resource extraction and use. This project will test whether local communities can collect data and take leadership and ownership over the management of their local protected areas. This effort begins with the protected area network but by building capacity at the community level in monitoring protected areas (Hay Tao), the researchers will facilitate management of resources that spill outside the bounds of the of national parks (Mikajy). Proper land management is not an intrinsically intuitive process and skills must be taught to communities. At the end of the project, the team will assess the ability of the local community to effectively and accurately monitor biodiversity and ecological parameters across our sites, which will be done by contrasting results from their expert team with those of the community-based team.

In carrying out the project, the team will leverage the CLPs, local community groups created by the MNP system with members who are elected or designated by the community to protect the forest. CLP members collect information on environmental pressures and biodiversity, and in this project they will be engaged on a trial basis to monitor and survey biodiversity in the protected areas. At the end of the project, the CLP members will have had an opportunity to enhance their knowledge and community linkages. Training for CLP members will be carried out by the PI and two other students, with additional support provided thanks to collaborations with professors at the University of Antananarivo, University of Florida, and University of Hamburg. During the project, equipment and materials will also be provided by these universities and by the MNP. Ultimately, the research team expects that data collection by local community members using different approaches and protocols will be developed and applied in the MNP to improve overall management of protected areas.

Project updates

During the first three months of the PEER project, the team held meetings and gave presentations to Madagascar National Parks Authorities which will be engaged in the project.  Prospective study site visits were conducted and three sites for the project were identified. In these three sites, equipment and weather stations will be installed to collect data. A meeting was held with the local community and village leaders and authorities to familiarize them with the project. According to the PI, the community has agreed to collaborate and will select volunteers to assist the PEER team with data collection.  Preparation for study site visits and research for conducting inventory of available data, ecological monitoring data, and biodiversity data of each study site is ongoing. Each study site will have its own identification guide, which will be used for training local community, and will serve as a reference for identification of species during data collection process.  Preparation of a socio-economic survey sheets is ongoing - the survey sheets are intended to provide a baseline of biodiversity knowledge in the local community at the onset of the project.

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