Tsimembo forest constitutes the largest remaining dry forest of Madagascar, where eight lemur species can be found. Six species are Endangered and one is Critically Endangered (IUCN, 2015). Observations illustrate that lemurs populations decline progressively due to the reduction in forest cover, forest habitat degradation as well as hunting.
What is driving deforestation in the area? Slash and burn agricultural practices, materials sourcing for house construction and for canoe building constitute the principal causes of habitat degradation which must be addressed.
Involving local communities is critical to this project. Environmental education is a core component, helping to sensitize local communities. Furthermore, community members will be invited to participate in conservation activities as well as a planned reforestation programme to restore degraded areas of forest.
Local communities will be able to participate in ecological monitoring as well as reporting and communicating on the results.
The project team has already shared fibreglass canoes with local community members to reduce the dependency on tree felling for canoe construction. The project will also implement mitigating programmes such as honey production via apiculture and duck farming.
The envisaged outcomes are threefold:
1). Degraded habitat at the Tsimembo protected area will be reforested as the team works with local communities to ensure no hunting takes place in the protected area.
2). Participatory ecological monitoring will help to understand the evolution of lemur populations and will involve the local communities in the conservation programme.
3). The project will help local communities to mitigate activities to diminish the threat to local natural resource. This will increase the rate of lemur reproductionand reduce the rate of mortality.