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PARTNERSHIPS FOR ENHANCED ENGAGEMENT IN RESEARCH (PEER)
Cycle 6 (2017 Deadline)


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

PI: Lalatiana Randriamiharisoa, r.5tio@yahoo.fr, Madagascar National Parks
U.S. Partner: Brett Scheffers, University of Florida
Project dates: December 2017 - November 2020


Project Overview:

6-134_Study Site.jpg6-134_Identification guide.jpg 
 Study site and study guide  [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. 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 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.

The team will leverage local community groups (CLPs) 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.  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.


Study Sites

The study sites for this project are situated within the protected areas network managed by Madagascar National Parks. The PEER team intends to cover the diversity of ecosystems and wildlife present throughout Madagascar as well as a climate gradient  to assess possible impacts from the wettest to the driest regions in Madagascar. For this purpose, six protected areas are selected as study sites: two parks in the rain forest at the Ranomafana and Andringitra national parks,  two in the intermediate forest between the rain forest and dry forest at the Isalo and Andohahela national parks, and two parks in the dry forest at Tsimanampesotse national park and Beza Mahafaly special reserve and their surrounding areas.

Development impacts

Activities will encourage linkage between the local community and their surrounding environment and raise the awareness of the local community to understand ecosystem function and to promote diversified income activities by improving livelihoods and developing adaptation plans and to understand climate resilience. Local communities will be responsible for monitoring biodiversity, build connections and raise appreciation of biodiversity, and possibly build incentives to identify, monitor, and denounce wildlife crimes. At the end of the project, impact indicators will be developed. Data collection by local community with different approaches and protocols will be developed and applied within Madagascar National Parks to improve management of the protected areas
 
6-134_meeting with local comminities6-134_CLP training in the field using identification guide.jpg6-134_Biodiversity monitoring by local community.jpg  
    

Project updates

The second year of the project, as planned, will be devoted to data collection by the local community as well as by the experts of each biodiversity taxa. For this, the activities of the first quarter of 2019 focused on transect set up in the remaining study sites, student recruitment, drafting, and validation of the ecological monitoring protocol for the six PEER project sites. 

During the first quarter of 2019, transects in five remaining sites were set up, included Tsimanampetsotsa, Beza Mahafaly, Isalo, Andringitra and Ranomafana. Six transects were installed at each site, with each marked for identification at every 25 meters. In addition, the team conducted practical training and support for local communities on field data collection, with a focus on GPS usage, how to set up transects, how to collect data (observation of animals and plants), and how to complete the data sheets. This training was then followed by a data collection exercise in the set-up transects.  The ecological monitoring protocol for the six PEER project sites validated by the PEER team serves as a working reference for the local community.

During the second quarter (April-June 2019), eight activities were carried out:
(1) Two micro-weather stations were set up for each site (Andohahela, Tsimanampetsotsa, Beza Mahafaly, Isalo, Andringitra and Ranomafana). The protected area managers as well as the local community helped the team by preparing  the site for the station before the team's arrival. A total of 12 stations were installed of which three of them do not have a rainfall sensor. These station are used to monitor climate change and to determine if climate has an impact on biodiversity.
(2) Data collection: Biodiversity data collection (Birds, Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians) in each transect of the 6 sites are the major parts of the activities for this quarterly, because the project objective is to streamline reliability of data collected by the local communities. Each local community trained during the
first year are collecting the data in each transect on a monthly basis to  become familiar with the method and biodiversity in their local protected area. On the other hand, to show if the data collected by local community are reliable, comparison of the data with scientist data was also made in the same transects (PI, Co-PI and students coming from the university of Antananarivo). Trainee students from the University of Antananarivo were chosen by the University of Antananarivo, Zoology and Animal Biodiversity Department to strengthen the team in collecting data according to the convention made between MNP, the University of Antananarivo and the University of Florida. 
(3)  Socio-economic surveys of local community groups were also carried out by the IP and the two co-PIs. This is done to evaluate the income of each local community that is working for the project, since local community working on data collection is given reimbursement for their work. Also, the team conducted a survey of each local community to identify and understand the impact of the project on the daily life of each local community that is involved in the project.  
(4) Data entry: Biodiversity data (Birds, Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians) collected by local communities obtained between September 2018 and May 2019 for Andohahela, and January - May 2019 data collected from Tsimanampesotse, Beza Mahafaly, Isalo, Andringitra and Ranomafana were entered, verified and cleaned by the co-PIs. Thus, the PI was able to do data  analysis to assess the capacity of local communities
(5) Visit by the local USAID Mission representative Daniel Whyner, USAID regional advisor Brent Wells, and NAS program officer Lina Stankute-Alexander was conducted during at the end of May. The team visited MNP in Antananarivo to discuss project performance and challenges, followed by a site visit in South Madagascar in Andohahela National Park to meet the local community that is working on the project, the status of weather stations and how the transects are set up.
 
 




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