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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 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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AEECL

AAECL LogoAEECL (Association Européenne pour l’Étude et la Conservation des Lémuriens) conserves lemurs in northwest Madagascar through innovative capacity building, community outreach, and on-the-ground research programs.

Supporting Lemur Conservation through Community Programming, Research, and Supporting Lemurs in Captivity

A female Blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons).

A female Blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons).

AEECL has been conducting community-based conservation programs on the Sahamalaza Peninsula in northwest Madagascar since 2000. AEECL supports lemur conservation—especially that of the Blue-eyed black lemur, which may be extinct in the next 11 years—by maintaining and strengthening natural habitat and improving how that habitat is used by humans. Additionally, AEECL advances the understanding and conservation of Madagascar’s lemurs through scientific research and captive propagation.

What Lemur Species does AEECL Protect?

AEECL is heavily focused on the Sahamalaza Peninsula which is home to several lemur species, including:

  • Blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons)
  • Sahamalaza sportive lemur (Lepilemur sahamalazensis)

How does AEECL protect lemur habitat?

Reforestation

AEECL works with local communities to conduct community-based reforestation. AEECL’s programs planted over 111,000 trees around 14 villages in 2013 alone, often involving local schools. Once the trees are planted, an association of gardeners monitors the survival of saplings and re-plants trees if necessary.

Constructing a fire break with the help of local communities.

Constructing a fire break with the help of local communities.

Patrolling Forests

AEECL works with six local park committees to help patrol the forests in the national park. In 2013, these local park controls completed 300 patrol days.

Protecting Forests from Wildfires

Lastly, AEECL works with local partners to organize community volunteers to build a 7 kilometer-long firebreak to protect the forest from the spread of wild fires. The community turn-out for yearly construction of the firebreak is extremely large—larger than many other community events in the region.

Partnering with Local Communities

The majority of AAECL’s projects are designed to address the needs of local communities. AAECL always considers and ask local communities’ opinions before designed or implementing a project or making programmatic decisions.

Eco-tourism

World Environment Day parade with local authorities.

World Environment Day parade with local authorities.

AEECL believes that lemur conservation is more effective when local communities  benefit—directly and indirectly—from the national park.

Since 2013, AEECL has been working to increase local capacity to accommodate tourists by building several key facilities, including housing and solar paneling. They have made significant progress in turning the Sahamalaza Peninsula into a tourist destination by working with local communities to build accommodations that could house tourists.

In addition, AAECL trains members of the local community to become tourist guides, training 33 new guides in 2010 and 2011. They also created a guide association, which advocates for the guides and organizes tourist group visits. Guide training helps local community members improve their French and increase their knowledge of the local ecosystem and lemur species, thus helping them to become ambassadors for Madagascar’s environment.

Social Development

Lemur festival celebrations.

Lemur festival celebrations.

Successful conservation work often requires organizations to address social development issues, like education and healthcare.

Education

AEECL has been working in education outreach since 2012, including much-needed school construction and renovation programs which impacted thirteen schools in the perimeter of the Sahamalaza National Park. AEECL also subsidizes the salaries of 60 school teachers, impacting over 2,000 students.

Health

AEECL has improved the sanitation, hygiene, and health through the construction of six water wells in their surrounding communities. The construction of these wells is extremely important because water shortages have become increasingly common over the past few years.

Reforestation outreach in rural Malagasy communities.

Reforestation outreach in rural Malagasy communities.

Environmental Outreach

AEECL also works on a variety of local environmental awareness initiatives, organizing activities for World Environment Day and the World Lemur Festival. A variety of activities are planned to increase environmental awareness, including parades, speeches, radio quizzes, sports events, and community dance events.

The AEECL is one of the main funders and organizers of the Lampogno Festival, a fun 4-day event about how food availability and habitat conservation are connected using films, children’s activities, speeches, and even a song contest.

 

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