In Madagascar, ITF partner Ny Tanintsika are halfway through their project entitled ‘Endemic Trees for Sustainable Agroforestry’, which aims to work with farming communities near the COFAV Rainforest Corridor. Ny Tanintsika means ‘Our Land’, and one of the aims of the project is to encourage communities around the rainforest to plant endemic trees on their land – those species that are only found in Madagascar.
Madagascar is home to a rich biodiversity, including many plants and animals found nowhere else on earth. The rainforests are the main habitats for these species, and have suffered from severe deforestation. Over 80% of the forests have been lost, 50% since the 1950s.
The project was developed following successful reforestation activities in the rainforest in the past, with native and endemic trees. Alongside reforestation activities, Ny Tanintsika have also supported local communities to adopt agroforestry on their land. The types of trees planted in the past were the ‘usual suspects’ – exotic species that are well known for improving soil quality, nitrogen fixation and other benefits. Or sometimes just trees that grow very fast!
However, there is a growing demand for endemic trees to be planted on farmland. Ny Tanintsika applied to ITF’s Sustainable Community Forestry Programme and received a small grant to implement this work.
Since the start of the project in January, 20 tree nurseries have been set up to produce endemic seedlings. The planting material is collected from the forest, either as seeds or ‘wildlings’ – young trees that have taken root under the canopy. As part of the project, 40 people have been trained as seed collectors and a further 40 have been trained to run the tree nurseries – ensuring the young trees are healthy before they are transplanted onto the farmers’ land. So far, the tree nurseries have produced 28,762 seedlings of 10 endemic species.
Transplanting the seedlings onto smallholdings has already started, but the main tree planting will take place during the next rainy season – in December 2017. 800 vulnerable households – 600 female-headed – will receive seedlings to plant on their land. The species have been chosen by the communities involved for a variety of reasons, including to meet their daily needs in timber and forest products or for income generation. The project is therefore expected to have a positive effect on rainforest conservation, as these communities will be less reliant on trees within the rainforest, and will also contribute to biodiversity and conservation by increasing the number of endemic trees surrounding the rainforest.
The first half of this project has built the capacity of local communities and prepared the ground for the young trees to take root. Nathalie Raharilaza, Programmes Officer, said “It is so satisfying to see the successful production of endemic tree species in community tree nurseries as a result of seed collection in the rainforest. We will be so proud to see them planted and grow in families’ agroforestry plots”.
We look forward to bringing you news of the project in another six months!
This project was made possible through funding from Wessanen UK, who kindly sponsor our Sustainable Community Forestry Programme.