Habitat loss is the greatest threat to nine lemur species in the forests of Kianjavato, southeastern Madagascar. Two are Critically Endangered: the black-and-white ruffed lemur and the greater bamboo lemur. Clearing the land for agriculture is widespread and encroaching on protected forests. The cleared areas are sometimes screened by narrow bands of trees disguising the scale of the devastation. In 2016 and 2017, fires from land clearing spread, burning trees that the community planted for the reforestation effort and resulting in the loss of lives. Community members and local leaders struggle with identifying and balancing the needs of people and wildlife and lack the tools to enforce laws.
This project provides tools to the community to protect natural resources by creating grassroot organizations (VOIs) that implement land use laws. Additionally, the project empowers a village committee to fight fires and promote community awareness.
To address habitat loss, the project expands the reforestation nursery infrastructure to increase the production of native and commercial trees.
To track changes in lemur communities, the project team will continue to monitor black-and-white ruffed lemurs, greater bamboo lemurs, and aye-ayes.
Environmental and health education align community and wildlife priorities. The project works with 12 primary schools and the new high school conducting programs such as teacher training workshops and conservation camps.
The establishment of three VOIs will improve local capacity to protect forests, empowering residents to determine for themselves appropriate land use restrictions.
The addition of two nurseries and the expansion of pre-existing nurseries will help the project reach its goal of planting 500,000 trees per year. Trees planted are tailored to the needs of lemurs and provide the community with sustainable resources.
The lemur monitoring work of locally-hired field guides provides data to develop more targeted conservation strategies. The project aims to maintain or increase lemur populations by tracking encounter rates.
Through education programs and outreach efforts, the project promotes improved stewardship of biological resources by the community and identifies new leaders at teacher training workshops.