Reinforcing Community Organizations for Sustainable Management and Conservation of Biodiversity in the Maevatanana-Ambato-Boeny Wetlands
Madagascar supports one of the world’s most distinctive freshwater biotas, with many regional and local endemics, that can be considered of global importance. The high threat to Madagascar’s biodiversity has serious implications for its indigenous communities. In comparison to the ongoing deforestation, the degradation of wetlands and coastal regions have received much less attention. The new National Environment Action Plan will include wetlands and coastal areas, however the implementation of wetland programs on the ground remains scarce.
This project coordinated by DBCAM (Development and Biodiversity Conservation Action for Madagascar) focuses on the communities surrounding the small and dispersed remaining forest patches and wetlands/lakes in what is called the Maevatanana–Ambato-Boeny wetland system, in the area of Madirovalo, northwest Madagascar.
Empowering communities to control natural resource use can indirectly lead to better biodiversity conservation because it is in the community’s best interests to ensure the resources are used in a sustainable manner. Community empowerment stops the cycle of the “tragedy of the commons” in which indigenous inhabitants compete harder to gather the last resources until there is nothing left. The need for local capacity-building in Maevatanana-Ambato-Boeny wetlands is emphasized in the Madagascar ecosystem profile of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. Limited training and capacity of communities is a threat to the Malagasy biodiversity which, although indirect, is as serious as well-publicized direct threats. Uncontrolled exploitation of wetland resources, deforestation, sedimentation, rising population pressure and lack of urban planning reduces lake resource yields (one of the very few resources available to long-term residents), at the same time greatly reducing the overall biodiversity value of the freshwater ecosystems.
BINCO is involved in this project to help with the standardized biodiversity surveys and capacity building of our local partner. In Madagascar, many threatened species can currently be found outside conservation zones. This project aims to fill the knowledge and conservation gaps present in the Maevatanana–Ambato-Boeny wetland system, northwest Madagascar. This project focuses on the diversity of birds, freshwater fish and dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata) across the region. Biodiversity data are gathered through field surveys in both dry and wet seasons. Linking biodiversity records with water quality parameters will help us gain insight in the human pressure on the lakes. We will look into the possibility to identify indicator species as a proxy for human disturbance. The biodiversity and environmental data collected by BINCO will assist DBCAM, our local partner, in the prioritization of their conservation efforts.
Previous observations recorded forty-eight species of wetland birds in the Maevatanana-Ambato-Boeny wetland system including eleven Madagascar endemics, several threatened with extinction (IUCN, 2019). Madagascar Fish Eagle, Haliaeetus vociferoides (Critically Endangered) is recorded infrequently, though at least one breeding pair is known to exist in the region. The Madagascar pochard, Aythya innotata (Critically Endangered) and Madagascar Sacred ibis, Threskiornis bernieri (Endangered) have been recorded in the past, though no recent information is available. Madagascar pond heron, Ardeola idea (Endangered), is confirmed to occur at these wetlands as wintering birds, though it is not known if they also breed here. Populations of Madagascar Heron, Ardea humbloti (Endangered), Madagascar jacana, Actophilornis albinucha (Near threatened) and Madagascar Grebe, Tachybaptus pelzelnii (Vulnerable) are probably still present, although recent population censuses of waterbirds are absent.