MiRARI’s team recently visited three local communities across three protected areas
From October 1st until October 23, MiRARI’s team went to three protected areas to understand local communities’ perceptions of the co-management of the forest and any development interventions implemented in and around the protected areas.
The team visited the
i) Itremo Massif Protected Area managed by Kew Madagascar Conservation Center in the central highlands of Madagascar, mostly dominated by grassy biomes,
ii) Madiromirafy, a site under management transfer managed by the Vondron’Olona Ifotony Aina and Impact Madagascar in the western region of Madagascar with mostly dry forest, grassland and wetlands ecosystem,
iii) Marolambo National Parc, rainforest managed by Madagascar National Parks in the southern highland of the country.
Our findings showed that local communities are aware of the creation, the existence, and the delimitation of protected areas in their area. All of them approve of their existence, and are aware of the ecological benefits that these protected areas bring and the sustainability of the resources due to their protection.
Nevertheless, the communities feel rejected in the management of these areas, saying "The community is not responsible for the management, few people were selected by the conservation manager". They do not really feel integrated in the process of creating the protected areas. he communities also have limited understanding of their and the conservation managers’ rights, obligations and responsibilities, regarding the protected area. However, they do feel that they have an important role in the management of the protected area to ensure better monitoring and restoration.
The reasons for the implementation of the safeguard measures and development projects are not fully understood by the community interviewed. Some people think that they they get some livelihood support the conservation manager but do not associate them with the conservation rules and the impacts of the PA on their livelihoods. The communities feel that the measures to reduce losses due to restrictions are not sufficient . These measures have only affected a minority of people and the impacts are not visible either on the beneficiaries or on the local community. The reasons behind that are the following: inappropriate safeguards measures, sometimes they do not fit the needs of the communities, the criteria for benefiting from support (only members of VOI/ joining an association/...). Finally, the lack of baseline data and the difficulty of monitoring the beneficiaries also limit the evaluation of the impacts generated by these development interventions.
The visit has highlighted the importance of establishing an agreement between the managers and the local communities that determines both the right, obligation and responsibility of each party and requires sufficient work on capacity building of the local communities, including their literacy levels. This is important so that communities feel confident and secure about the terms of the agreement. The visit also raised the need for a more thoughtful strategy in the planning, implementation and monitoring of safeguard and development interventions in and around PAs.