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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 - June 2022

Project Overview:

6-134_protected areas map6-134_Identification guide.jpg 
 6 protected areas chosen as study sites (left);   study guide to help local communities identify biodiversity (right). Photo credit: 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 practical training6-134 Lalatiana showing transects 
 Local community training. Photo credit: Lalatiana RandriamiharisoaUSAID and NAS site visit in Toliara, Madagascar in May 2019: local community shows transects in the area. Photo credit: Lina Stankute-Alexander
July-September 2021 updates:

This quarter was marked by the opening of national roads in Madagascar, which allowed the team resume their work. Following data analysis exchange with the US partners, the project team drafted their first paper on the initial results of the project. Surveying and analysis of data on the project's impact on local communities and managers of the protected areas were also the focus during this reporting quarter.  The survey conducted by the team focused on the impact, value, and necessity of the PEER project at the local community level as well as its usefulness for the management of the protected areas. The analysis includes  the evaluation of the project's weak and strong points, as well as assessment of the feasibility of expanding the project in other protected areas managed by Madagascar National Parks.

During this quarter, Madagascar National Parks and the General Directorate of Meteorology held a meeting to discuss collaboration. This meeting also allowed the team to conduct and present the initial analysis of correlation between biodiversity and the climate change.
Local communities  of Isalo National Park visited the Tsimanampetsotsa National Park to discuss local communities' experience of the project so far, and share how the project was being implemented in their park. This visit also allowed for a cultural exchange between the two local communities and management representatives of the two parks.

Going forward, dissemination of the project results and local communities' exchanges between the 6 study sites will continue. Workshops will be organized to disseminate research results at the MNP office, and thereafter at each project site  - Andohahela, Tsimanampetsotsa, Beza Mahafaly, Isalo, Andringitra, Ranomafana. Project presentations  at the University of Antananarivo as well as at the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development and USAID Madagascar are also being planned. Dissemination of results at the site level will be accompanied by local community exchanges among the 6 protected areas to enhance their experience and to help determine how others have experienced the project, how to properly preserve the protected area and, finally, assess the impact of the project. 
An exchange visit with the US partner in Florida also is being planned for further analysis of the results of the project. Final months of the project will be devoted to publication of student's research  results (co-pi) related to the project.
6-134_Andohahela site visit_Brent 6-134 Site visit group pic
May 2019:  Visit by the local USAID Mission representative Daniel Whyner, USAID regional advisor Brent Wells, and NAS program officer Lina Stankute-Alexander was conducted May 2019. 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, to see the status of weather stations, and observe how the transects are set up.Site visit group photo (USAID and NAS representatives with PI Lalatiana and native community members participating in PEER project, May 2019). Photo credit: Lina Stankute-Alexander
6-134_lalatiana in FL6-135_lalatiana and lizard
In September 2019, PI Lalatiana visited her U.S. Partner Prof. Brett Scheffers and David Klinges it in Florida in September 2019  for training on data collection and processing.  PEER PI Lalatiana Randriamiharisoa showing Madagascar biodiversity. Photo credit: Lalatiana Randriamiharisoa

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