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Adidy Maitso Association, Madagascar

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Description

Located in the Ambatondrazaka district of the Alaotra Mangoro region in Madagascar, the Adidy Maitso Association is comprised of the local Sihanaka community and Betsimisaraka; Merina and Betsileo migrants, with a population size of 21,327. The not-for-profit association consists of a board of directors, a General Assembly, an auditor, a coordinator and16 Koloharena associations made up of about 218 individual members, who work closely to support 22 community-based associations for forest management.

The association is the local manager of the new Ankeniheny-Zahamena corridor protected area. This new protected area is co-managed with strong participation of the community-based associations. The association also carries out forest patrols, protected area creation, reforestation, training for members on new agricultural technologies, and seed production. The main livelihoods in the area traditionally come from agricultural activity using traditional practices (slash and burn) and illegal mining.

Population

Children

Adult

Male

5020

5424

Female

5326

5557

TOTAL

10346

10981

21327

History and Activities

Established on January 24th 2008, in Didy, the association's creation was supported by an environmental program called ERI (Eco-Regional Initiative), founded by USAID. Initially the association had just 16 Koloharena members. Most Koloharena members are also members of the community-based associations so there is close collaboration between the two types of associations, with the community-based associations leading on conservation activities and the Koloharena leading on sustainable livelihood activities.

The association was created for several purposes including capacity building and diffusion of agricultural technology (supplies, seeds, biological fertilizers), support of small production activities and analysis of chain value, supporting members to negotiate small funds, communicating and raising awareness of conservation activities like reforestation and patrols, and the creation and implementation of a local training centre (the Koloharena house) for training and the production of semences seeds.

Current activities taking place are communication of protected area creation within the Didy rural commune, elaboration of the 'cahier de charge' system within the controlled occupation zone of the new protected area, reforestation activities with the 22 community-based associations, patrolling inside forest managed by eight community-based associations, promoting sustainable livelihoods, and implementation of new agricultural technologies with the 16 Koloharena and 22 community-based associations.

The association now has four main partners: The Ministry of Environment and Forest represented by the local forest services, COGESFOR a CIRAD project founded by FFEM Biodiversity, Conservation International Madagascar, and UNDP represented by the GEF/ Small Grants Program. Sustainable livelihoods are being supported by NGOs such as Conservation International and the COGESFOR Project for the community.

Conservation

The association protects part of the eastern rainforest of Madagascar (Didy forest) that is very rich in endemic biodiversity. Species that inhabit the area include lemurs such as Propithecus diadema and Prolemur simus, birds such as Lophotibis cristata, trees inclusive of Dalbergia species and Pygeum africanum, and many species of orchids.
The area also provides important ecosystem services such as hydrological, cultural and food security and protects plants of medicinal use. Ambohilero forest is the source for a multitude of rivers in the eastern part of Madagascar, while Ivondro River feeds the biggest rice yields in Madagascar (Alaotra) and provides hydrological power in the second largest town (Toamasina). Ambohilero forest is also part of the newly protected Ankeniheny-Zahamena corridor. The aim of this protected corridor is the implementation of REDD+. The forest is additionally used for recreational purposes, ecotourism and as a site for cultural ceremonies.

So far conservation has had a positive impact on species' numbers and ecosystem quality, through patrols limiting hunting activity and illegal logging being reduced by the mayor and local authority. These impacts have been observed by the local community, local authority (mayor and traditional leaders) and local forest services.

Management and Governance

The basis for management is the transfer of forest management from the forest ministry to the 22 community-based associations, which is supported by law. Each community has its own leader and procedures, and send reports on its activities to the mayor and local forest services, and has its own ancestral boundaries that are mostly based on natural limits, with each community knowing each other's territories. The mayor and traditional chief are consulted and informed at the begging of all activities and also implicated in all of the activities.

The local forest service works with the communities to ensure law enforcement, with the major threats being slash and burn practices and illegal mining activities. The community are involved with patrol activities, receiving a kind of indemnity for these patrols, which although is not significant, is enough to provide motivation. The community also gets involved in communication activities and in international environmental celebration days.

In 2010 the association received recognition through being a winner of the Equator Prize.

Lessons Learned and What's Next

The community has learnt that conservation activity is not as difficult as they thought. Although it needs effort and patience, once people are convinced, it is easy to implement. As they are in an under-developed country the priority of the state is economic growth, and for the community it is their livelihoods. Therefore effort must be focused on communication and the need of community support for livelihoods.

Future activities being planned are forest reforestation with native species, more patrols and an assessment of threats, the improvement of livelihoods and conservation communication. The initial next steps will be the improvement of the training centre, protected area management, assessment of members' small projects, and fundraising for the association and members. However the association still needs capacity for fundraising, assessment and financial support for the management of the marshes, and their technical partners to support them in project management. Although they get some funds from Equator Prize it is not enough cover all their projects.

Information provided by the Vice President of the Adidy Maitso Association, October 2010.