Reforestation in North-East Madagascar
The forests of Madagascar are severely threatened and their area is continuously decreasing. Rosewood and ebony trees which are used in the musical instruments industry grow in the rainforests of Madagascar.
Starting 2014 Eben!Holz e.V. supports an extensive reforestation project in the Anajanaharibe wild forest corridor from the Maintimbato region in the Makira Natural Park.
Makira Natural Park
The Makira Natural Park, situated in the Northeastern part of Madagascar, with a surface area of 372,47 ha is the biggest woodland of the island. With its extraordinary biodiversity and its location connecting several national parks, this area plays a crucial role in the ecological development of the region. The Natural Park is close to the Northern Marojejy National Park and to the East it boarders the Masoala National Park, which became in 2007 a UNESCO- World Heritage Site.
As of 2012 the Makira Natural Park is subject to special protection from the UN-REDD+ Programs. The amounts of stored carbon dioxide in this area can be sold as CO2 certificates. The resulting income contributes to financing the administration and the protection of the region.
The management and execution of the projects is the responsibility of the WCS-Madagascar Organization in cooperation with the Malagasy authorities and the affected communities. The WCS, our local partner, is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1895 and has been active in Madagascar since the 1990s.
Protecting the Makira Natual Park preserves the diversity of species and the unique rainforest habitat. To ensure the best protection for the forest, it is essential to take into account local settlements and the specific needs of the local population that existed prior to when the area was deemed Natural Park. In order to comply with the specific protection requirements the National Park has been divided into protection areas:
Protected area I – Core Area
Strictly protected uninhabited area where all economic use is strictly prohibited (wood must, under no circumstance, be removed). (dark green)
Protected area II – Controlled Habitation Area
An area in which minimal exploitation is allowed. For example, the inhabitants of the already existing settlements are allowed to use the forest’s resources for ensuring their basic needs. New population influx to these settlements is strictly prohibited. (purple)
Protected area III – Controlled Use Area
An area where, under specific conditions, the basic needs of the local population can be ensured, and where there are fewer restrictions on use. (light green)
The so-called “green belt” surrounds the core area with a network of associations of local authorities (COBAs).
Each local authority association (COBA) manages and cultivates the respective associated area jointly. Sustainable exploitation of the forest is allowed to the COBAs. These transition areas should, on the one hand, ensure the needs of the local population and its dependency form the use of the forest, and, on the other hand, to provide absolute strict protection of the core area by facilitating controlled use within this “green belt”. (white)
What threatens the Makira Natural Park?
There are several threats to the Makira Natural Park:
- Fire clearance agriculture (and the long-term degradation and erosion of the fertile soils),
- Illegal logging, especially of precious woods such as ebony (Diospyros spp.), rosewood and palisander wood (Dalbergia spp.),
- Exploitation for firewood,
- Unsustainable hunting of wildlife (especially endemic species, e.g. lemurs).
Counteractive measures for the threats
Raising the awareness of local population regarding forest protection is essential. Forest protection measures are possible among and for the locals only when alternatives to the harmful economic practices are available.
Training programs in sustainable agricultural practices outside the core area should ensure:
- the preservation of soil fertility and long-term use of agricultural land,
- an increase of the income,
- new additional sources of income through, among others, permaculture cultivation of cocoa, vanilla, and cloves,
- a careful and sustainable use of the resources.
The rainforest ensures clean drinking water and sets the foundation for a healthy and secure life. The preservation and the restoration of the forest are indispensable for the maintenance and functioning of the entire ecosystem.
Using satellite photography and on-site surveys, WCS identified within the core area several regions where the forest stand is destroyed is fragmented. These areas need to be restored to their original state. Eben!Holz is co-financing the reforestation of portions of the Anjanaharibe forest corridor in the eastern side of the Makira Natural Park, which is implemented by the WCS-Madagascar Organization in close collaboration with the Zürich Zoo and its curator Martin Bauert.
The initial goal, restoring approximately 100ha of rainforest, was expanded to 217ha in 2017 by supplementary contracts. By 2030 the goal is to restore the tree stand to such an extent that the rainforest can regenerate on its own.
In addition, Eben!Holz e.V. is funding an empirical study at the Unievrsity of Antananarivo on planting of ebony and rosewood species in combination with crops of cocoa. The results show that the integration of rosewood species of trees and of ebony trees in agroforestry systems contributes to improving the soil’s fertility. These results suggest that such plantations are useful regardless of the potential future use of the wood.