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Eden Reforestation Projects

Eden Reforestation Projects logo.Eden Reforestation Projects saves lemurs by planting millions — literally millions — of trees in Madagascar.

Saving lemurs through habitat protection and employment opportunities

Eden Reforestation Projects’ mission is to alleviate extreme poverty through environmental stewardship. Every year Eden Reforestation Projects employs thousands of villagers in Madagascar, Ethiopia, Haiti, and Nepal to plant millions of native tree species resulting in the alleviation of extreme poverty and the restoration of healthy forest systems.

Eden Reforestation Projects has been working in Madagascar since 2007, and their efforts have resulted in the planting of over 77 million dry deciduous and mangrove trees in Madagascar alone. Eden Reforestation Projects is the largest reforestation group in Madagascar, and they aim to plant billions – yes billions – of trees in Madagascar in the next decade.

 

How is Eden Reforestation Projects protecting habitat for lemur conservation?

common brown lemur

A common brown lemur.

Habitat destruction is perhaps the largest threat facing lemurs in Madagascar; some studies estimate that over 80% of vegetation in the country has been degraded or destroyed. However, thanks to Eden Reforestation Projects, 77 million trees were planted across Madagascar between 2007 and 2014. Moving forward, the organization is focusing its reforestation efforts in Madagascar around eight western Malagasy villages. In addition, they partner with one national park (Ankarafantsika), one university (Mahajanga), and one hotel resort with a private forest reserve (Antsanitia).

Mangroves

Eden Reforestation Projects has been working to rehabilitate mangrove estuaries in Madagascar since 2007. These habitats are critical to overall ecosystem health and also provide habitat for several mouse lemur species. In addition, healthy mangrove forests become green pathways for larger lemur species to cross from one patch of dry deciduous forest to another. Thousands of hectares of mangrove forests are now restored, and one large estuary (Mahabana) is nearing completion after the planting of tens of millions of mangrove propagules.

Dry Deciduous Reforestation Projects

IMG_6940In 2012, Eden expanded their work to include dry deciduous forest species. The overwhelming majority of the tree species grown are endemic to Madagascar’s western regions and virtually all of the species grown are native and essential to the well being of the lemur species that inhabit the dry deciduous forests. Their most notable lemur habitat partner is Ankarafantsika National Park; the organization has a full nursery operating within the confines of the National Park with plans to greatly expand operations in the years to come. They also partner with the Antsanitia Resort where they currently operate their largest nursery and project sites. Hundreds of hectares have already been planted and/or protected and the survival rate of saplings is high.

The Hands in the Dirt Training Center

Eden’s systems approach to restoration and protection efforts begin with their nursery and reforestation leadership training center that they affectionately call “The Hands in the Dirt Training Center” (HDTC) located in Mahajanga. The HDTC, as the name implies, emphasizes practical training so that their reforestation managers gain valuable hands-on experience in nursery seedling management and effective reforestation techniques. In partnership with the Mahajanga University, Eden Reforestation Projects uses the HDTC to increase the number of competent managers who have the skill needed to operate a nursery that will produce 100,000 to 500,000 seedlings each year. These managers then partner with local area villages, start nurseries, and get busy with restoring the habitat that is essential to lemur well being.

Fire prevention

Fire is the primary threat to all reforestation efforts in Madagascar, so Eden Reforestation Projects protect their reforestation sites by surrounding them with fire breaks and by hiring emergency fire prevention crews.

Helping lemurs in captivity

Starting in 2015, Eden Reforestation Project’s will begin to focus on developing their captive lemur restoration systems together with Malagasy government authorities. Their ultimate objective is to gradually release captive lemurs back into their natural habitats and transfer lemurs from fractured and degraded patches of forest to healthy and protected habitats.

Partnering with local communities

IMG_6949Eden Reforestation Projects believes in holistic community development, including assisting with the construction of schools, fresh water wells, and some medical services. In addition, Eden Reforestation Projects partners with local communities to provide employment opportunities as tree planters and forest guards. These partnerships initially began with their “Employ to Plant” approach to habitat restoration, which pays thousands of people across multiple developing countries – including Madagascar – to plant trees.

Sustainability of programming

NCS_8591Regarding sustainability, Eden has a diverse approach that begins with the establishment of legal agreements with the local, regional, and national government agencies that authorize the reforestation efforts and include preserving the restored forests in perpetuity. Further, Eden is partnered with Mahajanga University and has an agreement with the Ankarafantsika National Park, where they seek to educate the communities with the goal of preserving the forests and local lemur populations.

Fruit orchards and fuel-efficient stoves

Eden Reforestation Projects knows that reforestation projects are only impactful if other programs are instituted to help the local communities refrain from cutting those new forests back down. Therefore, they have also planted fruit trees as well as trees that can be used in construction. These are beneficial to the local villagers and ensure that their physical and financial needs are accounted for. In addition, in each of the villages, fuel-efficient stoves and/or solar-stoves have been provided, which have largely led to a significant decrease in charcoal production and use in the areas where Eden serves.

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Conservation Fusion

Conservation Fusion LogoConservation Fusion connects communities across the world through education and environmental awareness raising.

Supporting lemur conservation through innovative education and outreach

Conservation Fusion connects communities across the world through innovative education programs that promote conservation actions. The organization currently focuses its efforts in Madagascar where it partners with research-oriented organizations – including the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership – to undertake education outreach programs. Conservation Fusion has ongoing programs in northern (Antsiranana region), eastern (Analmazaotra and Kianjavato), and southern Madagascar (Lavavolo).

What lemur species does Conservation Fusion protect?

Conservation Fusion’s programing increases awareness at four sites across Madagascar which are home to the following species of lemur:

  • Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis)
  • Black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata)
  • Diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema)
  • Greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus)
  • Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta)
  • Northern sportive lemur (Lepilemur septentrionalis)

Partnering with local communities

Conservation Fusion’s greatest successes have come from the relationships and collaborations that they have forged with researchers, local communities, and organizations who aim to complement Conservation Fusion’s education programs and vision.

Conservation fusion 2Southern Madagascar

Conservation Fusion continues to break barriers in its education-based programming; their work in southern Madagascar is just one of the many initiatives being undertaken to raise awareness in-country. Here, Conservation Fusion focuses on raising awareness of radiated tortoises, ring-tailed lemurs, and sifaka in the dry spiny forests of Lavavolo in southern Madagascar. Their outreach programs – which have been implemented for over three years – consist of hands-on activities with the local villages and schools and include: community gardens, agriculture training, workshops on using fuel-efficient Rocket Stove, and a junior researcher day.

Conservaiton fusion 1One of Conservation Fusion’s larger initiatives is the building of a “dream school”; a school that village elders wished to provide to their children but something that had only ever been a dream for them. Conservation Fusion has started construction on the school, and plans to provide teacher trainings, and teacher salaries for three years. The school – in partnership with Hug It Forward – is being built with recycled materials and school uniforms (bright yellow t-shirts featuring beautiful nature designs) where designed by students and community members at the University of Nebraska in Omaha.

Aye-aye puppets L. septentrionalis project Conservation Festival Conservation fusion

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Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group

MFG Logo

The Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group unites organizations across the world to conserve wildlife in Madagascar.

Saving lemurs since 1988 by uniting organizations across the world and managing two project sites in Madagascar

IMG_1543The Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group (MFG) unites zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, universities and related conservation organizations worldwide to conserve the wildlife of Madagascar. With the help of its many partners – and thanks to the membership dues that these organizations provide – MFG manages Parc Ivoloina (a 282 hectare area) and the Rendrirendry Research Station at the Betampona Natural Reserve, both of which are in eastern Madagascar.

What lemurs species does the MFG protect?

The MFG has active research programs at its study sites in eastern Madagascar. These include research and conservation efforts aimed at the following species:

  • Black-and-white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata)
  • Black lemur (Eulemur macaco)
  • Greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus)
  • Indri (Indri indri)
  • Diademed Sifaka (Propithecus diadema)

The research activities of the MFG have resulted in the publication of dozens of scientific manuscripts.

How does the MFG protect habitat for lemur conservation?

Varecia

Starting in 2008, the MFG received funding to undertake reforestation efforts in the region surrounding their project sites. The goals of this project were to work with local communities to replant trees in a 2 kilometer radius around the Betampona National Reserve.

Helping lemurs in captivity

MFG manages a 4-hectare zoological park within the larger Parc Ivoloina, where rescued and confiscated lemurs are kept in captivity until they can be released back into the wild. MFG also actively facilitates the success of captive breeding programs both in Madagascar and in partnership with programs in the United States. For example, the zoo has an established captive breeding program for Prolemur simus. In addition, MFG has facilitated the first releases of captive-born black-and-white ruffed lemurs in the Betampona Nature Reserve; lemurs which had been raised by the Duke Lemur Center in the United States.

Partnering with the local community

Capacity building

IMG_1518The MFG mentors undergraduate and graduate students in Madagascar, teaches classes, and organizes workshops that are aimed at providing hands-on training in a variety of disciplines. The organization also works with farmers to improve their food production levels and with teachers to improve how active learning strategies are incorporated in the classroom.

Environmental Education

The MFG has a long history of undertaking environmental education projects. In 1995, the MFG launched their Saturday School program at the Parc Ivoloina, which was designed to enhance the zoo’s education programs and discourage the acquisition of lemurs as pets.

IMG_4049

In 1997 they supplemented this program by training teachers on incorporating environmental education into the everyday school curriculum; this work resulted in the production of a 65-page manual entitled, “A practical guide for the teacher: the application of environmental education in primary school instruction.” Over the years, these educational programs have been expanded to include both middle and high schoolers and even target elected officials in the local villages. Many of these training opportunities take place in the Ivoloina Conservation Training Center, a facility that includes a meeting room, library, and laboratory.

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Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership (MBP)

Madagascar Biodiversity Paternship logMadagascar Biodiversity Partnership works with communities on comprehensive research and conservation programming.

Supporting Lemur Conservation by believing that everything is connected, or “Mampifandray ny tontolo”

Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership Dr. Louis, Shelia Holmes and Varecia_ HHamilton

Dr. Louis and Sheila Holmes collecting data from a lemur.

The Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership (MBP) was founded in 2010 by Dr. Edward E. Louis Jr., Director of Conservation Genetics at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium (OHDZA) who has been working in Madagascar since 1998. The MBP strives to protect local forests for the lemurs while sustainably raising the standard of living for communities who are equally reliant upon the natural resources. Believing that everything is connected, or “Mampifandray ny tontolo”, the MBP incorporates research, education and community involvement to achieve sustainability.

What Lemur Species does the Madagascar Biodiversity Project Protect?

Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership Baby Lepilemur septentrionalis_EE Louis Jr

A baby Lepilemur septentrionalis being examined.

MBP works across the country to support research and outreach related to several different lemur species, including:

 

  • Aye aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis)
  • Black-and-white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata)
  • Crowned lemur (Eulemur coronatus)
  • Diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema)
  • Greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus; only about 300 individuals remain!)
  • Northern sportive lemur (Lepilemur septentrionalis; only about 50 individuals remain!)
  • Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta)

The MBP is pioneering research on the northern sportive lemurs, whose populations are incredibly small (less than 50 individuals remaining) and who cannot be kept in captivity. In addition – and together with the Malagasy government – they have helped re-establish the diademed sifaka and the black-and-white ruffed lemur to their historical ranges in the Analamazoatra Special Reserve. These populations are now monitored by the MBP year-round. Finally, the MBP uses radio collars and other innovative technology to track lemur populations; this helps increase understanding of how different species use different types of habitat and how conservation programs can effectively protect lemurs in the future.

Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership Nore teaching planting techniques_HHamilton

Teaching planting techniques in rural Madagascar.

How is MBP Protecting Habitat for Lemur Conservation?

MBP is a leader in reforestation efforts in Madagascar, and undertakes programming in west (Andasibe, Kianjavato) and southern Madagascar (Lavavolo). The MBP also undertakes reforestation initiatives in the areas where it is working to distribute fuel-efficient cook stoves in northern Madagascar.

The MBP’s largest reforestation programming is based in Kianjavato and is called the Education Promoting Reforestation Project (EPRP). This program’s success is based on the fact that seeds which have passed through a lemur’s intestinal tract grow better than seeds that haven’t; by collecting the seeds in lemur poop, the MBP has been able to plant over 60,000 trees!

Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership EPP Kianjavato students with trees_HHamilton

Students from the Kianjavato public school students with trees.

This program – and the associated community education and outreach efforts – have been so successful that they were featured on National Public Radio in the United States and in other media outlets worldwide. Moving forward, the MBP hopes to plant one million trees and restore Kianjavato’s fragmented forest landscape.

Partnering with Local Communities

Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership Member of Single mothers Club planting trees_HHamilton

A member of Single Mothers Club planting trees.

Madagascar has a young and growing population that is increasingly reliant upon the country’s dwindling natural resources, which is compounded by their decreasing GDP. Despite the precarious conditions, there is room for hope. The MBP has initiated multiple community-based conservation efforts and development plans designed to rebalance the relationship between people and the ecosystem; many of their community outreach efforts are conducted together with Conservation Fusion.

Fuel-efficient cook stoves

In partnership with the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium and with Conservation Fusion, MBP is undertaking work to reduce the use of charcoal in some areas of Madagascar. Charcoal production – which causes large areas of forest to be cut down in Madagascar and is often unsustainable – is a big threat to lemur populations. MBP has distributed over 100 fuel-efficient cooking stoves and supplements these with hands-on education programs and reforestation initiatives.

Aquaponics development

Aquaponics is a sustainable food production method that combines techniques used to raise fish for food and hydroponics methods for growing plants in liquid mediums. Properly balanced aquaponics systems can provide large amounts of food, which is important in areas of Madagascar where families are food insecure – meaning, in areas where families do not have access to the food that they need, when they need it. MBP – in partnership with a Omaha-based aquaponics nonprofit – is undertaking pilot programs which will help fine-tune the implementation of this type of equipment on-the-ground in Madagascar.

Capacity building

Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership Prolemur simus eating bamboo_ BEnyart

Prolemur simus eating some bamboo.

As part of the MBP’s ongoing research programs, over 50 Malagasy doctorate and graduate students, 30 Malagasy undergraduate students, and 10 international students have received considerable training in research methods and conservation paradigms. For example, through the MBP’s role in helping to re-establish lemur populations in the Analamazoatra Special Reserve, students and local communities have received training on how to monitor these new populations and how re-establishment programs must be designed in order to be successful.

In addition, the MBP supports 80+ full-time Malagasy employees as field assistants, project supervisors, office employees, and supporting staff members.

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GERP: Groupe d’étude et de recherche sur les primates de Madagascar

GERP Logo

GERP connects scientists in Madagascar with the international community to help build in-country capacity for lemur conservation.

Supporting lemur conservation through capacity building and collaboration

GERP connect Malagasy scientists united in saving lemurs.

GERP connects Malagasy scientists united in saving lemurs.

GERP (Groupe d’étude et de recherche sur les primates) is an association based in Madagascar with nearly 200 members, including scientists and primatologists. Its purpose is centered on the conservation of Madagascar’s lemurs, and since its inception, it has focused heavily on working with local communities in Madagascar to effect change. Established in 1994 by the Department of Biological Anthropology and Paleontology and Department of Animal Biology of the University of Antananarivo (Madagascar), its headquarters are located right on the university campus, in the center of the capital city. Notably, GERP took over management of the Maromizaha forest in 2008; a report of those activities can be read here.

What lemur species does GERP work with?

GERP broadly supports scientists and research efforts of all lemur species. The organization is best known for having played a key role in discovering three new species of lemurs:

  • Madame Berthe lemur (Microcebus berthae)
  • MacArthur’s mouse lemur (Microcebus macarthurii)
  • Gerp’s mouse lemur (Microcebus gerpi)

They also actively work in regions that protect several other lemur species, including:

  • Eastern woolly lemur (Avahi laniger)
  • Indri (Indri indri)
  • Diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema)
  • Common brown lemur (Eulemur fulvus)
  • Red-bellied lemur (Eulemur rubriventer)
  • Eastern lesser bamboo lemur (Hapalemur griseus)
  • Black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata)
GERP provides a real opportunity for Malagasy university students to connect with foreign researchers.

GERP provides a real opportunity for Malagasy university students to connect with foreign researchers.

The association primarily focuses on the scientific study of lemurs, including the study of their geographical distribution, the implementation of conservation plans, and participation in the discovery of new species. It is also responsible for transferring animals weakened by the destruction of their habitat to protected areas and zoos. Collaboration with other actors in the protection of working lemurs on the island and various educational programs of local people is another important aspect of its work.

How is GERP protecting habitat for lemur conservation?

Since 2008, GERP has been managing the Maromizaha forest in eastern Madagascar. This 1880 hectare forest is home to important wildlife but 98% of local villagers continue to extract resources from the park. For this reason, GERP’s responsibilities include patrolling the park, increasing enforcement, undertaking reforestation programming, and working to increase awareness in the region about alternative livelihoods and the value of nature.

In their role, GERP undertakes several patrols per yeas – sometimes several patrols per month – and try to raise awareness in the villages surrounding the park about the need to protect and use resources sustainably. To try and stem the intensification of forest destruction, GERP works with local and regional authorities to help enforce local laws, where enforcement is otherwise typically low.

In addition to enforcement, GERP manages a variety of other programs in and around this protected area. For example, they undertake reforestation programs in three villages; in 2014, each village nursery had the capacity to produce a minimum of 4,000 native plants. In addition, they manage lemur monitoring programs that are critical for increasing our understanding of whether threatened lemur species can still be found in these forest fragments and how they are being impacted by degradation.

Partnering with local communities

Education

By connecting scientists in Madagascar with international research groups, GERP is building the capacity of local community associations as well as primary and higher education systems in Madagascar; this will help increase the in-country capabilities to conserve endangered lemur populations. For example, in the villages surrounding the Maromizaha forest, GERP has donated hundreds of school uniforms to the students who cannot afford them and GERP has covered the costs of teacher salaries when no funding was available to pay them. Through its ongoing programs in Maromizaha, GERP has been able to offer local primary school students a variety of science educational opportunities, including guided visits into the forest and interactive tree-planting lessons.

World Lemur Festival

GERP was a key organizer of the first World Festival of Lemurs, which raised significant awareness for the plight of endangered lemur populations and engaged communities across the globe in lemur-related activities.

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