Makay Nature Project

Madagascar

This French conservation organisation, Naturevolution, aims to advise on the human, biological and landscape diversity all over the world, raising awareness of and combating environmental issues.
 

The Project

Despite a record number of endemic plant and animal species, in just a century, Man has reduced 90% of Madagascar’s primary forest cover to cinders, putting the island on the world’s list of priorities for the preservation of its biodiversity. Thanks to its extraordinary and convoluted relief, the Makay mountain range has protected many different and endemic ecosystems. However, due to farming and bush fire practices, the biological and ecological richness will not be preserved for much longer and it is a matter of urgency to protect this threatened area. The project aims to:
  • Draw up an inventory of Makay’s biodiversity
  • Raise awareness of the biodiversity issues
  • Educate local people about the preservation of their natural resources
  • Create eco-tourist trails
  • Obtain Protected Area status
 

The Update

The first ever formal naturalistic expedition to the area, complete with 25 scientists and specialists in all areas of flora and fauna, as well as a logistical team of 14, took place during January 2010. This took many months to organise, getting funding together, as well as ensuring the right people form part of the team, as well as dealing with all the bureaucracy and public services concerning the creation of their non profit organisation, Naturevolution. Four very different ecosystems were explored and results are both very exciting, and worrying as the extent of damage to these areas is seen first hand. New species of both animal and plant have been discovered, as well as known species, that were not thought to inhabit this region. Some major archaeological discoveries were made, including 2 caves, rich with paintings. Time was also spent in 2 local villages trying to understand their way of life and why they use the burning techniques they do, as well as educating them about the forest and trying to get them thinking about ‘preservation issues’.

Work is currently underway to produce and inventory of the area. First steps towards obtaining Protected Area status for the area have also been taken . Schools and teachers have been contacted to start building up the educational side of the project, the website is constantly updated, and the documentary is being written. Planning for an ecotour is also underway.
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We are hugely grateful for the support of the European Outdoor Conservation Association, without whose support we could never have realised such an ambitious project.
Hugo Tagholm, Surfers Against Sewage