Thanks to funding from Guernsey Overseas Aid, in March ITF began a new project in Madagascar: Better Lives for the People of the Forest Corridor. This partnership brings together two of ITF’s existing partners: EDENA (Education, Développment, Environnement Naturel) and Ny Tanintsika.
Based in two sites along the central forest corridor in Madagascar, the project will work within local communities to reduce pressure on the natural forest, improving food security, promoting the use of trees in farming systems, and improving forest management practice to help sustain the central Forest Corridor.
50% of Madagascar’s population live in poverty, and rural populations are highly dependent on land use for their livelihood. The local harvesting of firewood, timber and wood for charcoal production are major contributors to continued deforestation and overexploitation of the forest. Madagascar is globally important for biodiversity, with around 7,000 plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world. Due to habitat loss and climate change, many of these species are classified as endangered. Ny Tanintsika and EDENA’s projects focus on empowering local communities, educating and engaging them in conservation while increasing their capacity to meet their needs without being dependent on the forest.
Zeline, a single mother, gained confidence through working with EDENA and planting fruit trees. She now speaks up at project meetings – not an easy thing given local traditions. She understands the importance of protecting the forest and wants to form a women’s group to pursue this work.
‘Women, and especially single mothers, are marginalised in our community. Now I have gained more knowledge and am more involved in community life. People listen when I talk, and that has increased my confidence and reputation.’
The Better Lives project will aim to:
- Increase food production for household use and for markets, through training in improved rice cultivation and market gardening
- Promote a widespread understanding of agroforestry, the integration of useful tree species into farming systems
- Establish tree nurseries and engage the community in maintaining restored forest areas, planting trees for restoration and protecting the forest
The project will engage six villages in the Anozorobe-Angavo and Iladitra-Ambondro areas of Madagascar. Households will be trained in improved crop production, reducing their dependence on inorganic fertilisers and pesticides while improving yields. Women and girls will be trained in market gardening and supplied with starter seeds for good crop diversity. The training will include seed selection and storage to enable them to keep growing in subsequent years.
Through video projections, talks and practical demonstrations, farmers from these communities will learn about the benefits of agroforestry, with 340 receiving in-depth training. Community groups will set up six demonstration sites, and local schools will set up their own tree nurseries and fruit tree/ agroforestry demonstration sites, engaging over 1,000 children in environmental education and practical tree planting.
The project will run for 12 months, during which time EDENA and Ny Tanintsika shall:
- Train 220 households to improve rice cultivation methods for better yields.
- Offer training and supplies for 170 women to practice market gardening and seed saving
- Raise awareness of agroforestry for 840 farmers, and directly train and support 340 farmers to start practicing agroforestry.
- Support schools to engage 920 children in school tree nurseries and planting
- Help communities plant 6,000 native trees and run 3 forest monitoring groups.
Beyond the end of the project, food security will be improved for the beneficiaries. Greater productivity of rice fields will continue and women market gardeners will be able to supplement their income with sales of garden produce.
Integrating agroforestry into farms will have long-term health and economic benefits for households, improving incomes and providing food and resources, while reducing the pressure on the native forest and allowing its continued protection.