Squeezed in between industrial mine sites for nickel and graphite, the rainforests of Torotorofotsy-Ihofa also continue to be subject to artisanal mining (mostly for gold), slash-and-burn agriculture, and selective logging.
Opportunistic and targeted trapping of lemurs has increased since 2011. Most of these threats to lemurs and their habitat are due to the poverty of local communities and the difficulty of improving agricultural productivity and enhancing access to alternative sources of income.
The Torototofotsy-Ihofa landscape in eastern Madagascar comprises a diverse mosaic of rainforest, wetlands, and agricultural fields. Parts of it are gazetted as a Ramsar site (wetlands of international importance). Its uninhabited rainforests are a vital stepping-stone in the eastern Malagasy rainforest corridor. Teeming with endemic plant and animal species, the area is home to a staggering 14 species of lemur.
The project team aims to empower local communities and assist them obtaining a management transfer contract for the forests in their respective boroughs.
This will enable the local community to set up regulations for sustainable community-based forest management. At the same time, local communities will be trained to monitor resident lemur populations, with a focus on the four Critically Endangered species in the area.
The permanent presence of monitoring agents will also be beneficial in terms of deterring potential offenders (loggers, miners and hunters). Through the project the community will also establish and run a tree nursery with the capacity of producing 20,000 tree seedlings annually for rainforest restoration. Planting them will improve both habitat quality for lemur species and habitat connectivity.
Rainforest restoration will also contribute to reduced erosion and improved water retention, which will be beneficial to local agriculture. Tree nurseries will additionally produce fruit trees designed to enhance sustainable livelihoods through the promotion of permaculture and a diversification of produce.
In parallel, fish farming will be promoted in order to provide non-bushmeat animal protein. Finally a community-based environmental education programme will start, which is aimed at increasing knowledge and understanding about wildlife and ecology.
At the same time, this will also help to train future wildlife guides who will be needed as nature tourism will be developed in order to provide sustainable income for the local communities of Torotorofotsy-Ihofa.
Desired outcomes include:
- Improving community-based natural resource management.
- Delineation of zones of different usage, defined management regulations and sanctions.
- A permanent monitoring presence providing valuable data for lemur management and reducing threats to lemurs.
- About 40 hectares of restored rainforest and improved habitat quality/connectivity through rainforest restoration.
- Adoption of novel, sustainable and higher performing agricultural techniques by local communities and thus a reduction of slash-and-burn agriculture and pressure on lemur habitat.
- Decrease of lemur and other bushmeat hunting as a result of animal protein produced by fish farming.
- Alternative sustainable income generated by ecotourism reduces pressure on lemur habitat.
- Increased understanding about wildlife and ecology leads to increased appreciation of it.