Manombo Special Reserve stands as a fractured remnant of previously extensive coastal rainforest ecosystems across southeast Madagascar, abundant in biodiversity including eight lemur species. However, as a consequence of enduring economic hardship, local communities bordering the forest must depend on natural resources for timber, charcoal production, hunting, and slash-and-burn agriculture. Such destructive activities threaten the stability and resilience of local wildlife, and call for conservation activities to address both environmental and social needs.
There are approximately 9,000 individuals living in small and medium-sized communities surrounding the forest. This project aims to alleviate their economic reliance on wood, animals and land by shifting pressures away from inside the Reserve and towards sustainable activities that will offer enduring benefits. Throughout the project, the unique customs, traditions, and cultural beliefs in the area will be respected through close relationships with elders to ensure adherence to all necessary behaviours.
This three-year project will intensify conservation efforts for Avahi ramantsoavanai and Lepilemur jamesorum by expanding current ecological research and restoring habitats, and reduce threats to these target species by improving the livelihoods of local communities directly in the vicinity of the Reserve.
All activities are designed to improve the well-being of both the people and their forest. This diversified strategy aims to produce four results:
(1) Increased population sizes of Avahi and Lepilemur in addition to decreased incidences of threats and pressures through participatory ecological research with the local community;
(2) Higher income and/or food security improvement for 100 families through improved rice farming techniques;
(3) Approximately 800 schoolchildren and teachers directly aiding in conservation efforts through environmental education and World Lemur Festival and Environment Day event celebrations; and
(4) Habitat restoration of 20 hectares of forest through tree nursery development and community-wide reforestation efforts of 80,000 native tree species.