|Project Location||Nosy Hara National Park, Madagascar|
|Project Type||Environmental education|
Madagascar is renowned for its exceptional biodiversity and the coastal waters of northern Madagascar are an important refuge for numerous endangered marine species. However, natural resources in Madagascar are under a high level of pressure from growing human populations that depend almost entirely on these resources for livelihoods and subsistence. Unsustainable practices place a high strain on marine and coastal resources and on the species that depend on them, for example, extreme poverty forces people to rely on sea turtles for protein, or shark fins as a high-value cash resource.
To date, there has been a noticeable lack of sustained conservation efforts by governmental and non-governmental agencies, and measures implemented have commonly failed to gain the support of local communities and resource-users and thus been largely unsuccessful.
Although Nosy Hara Marine Park has been legally established for several years, a lack of funding and a top-down approach to conservation has left communities disheartened and unwilling to cooperate with conservationists. For example, the Park’s waters host a high number of migrant fishermen, who have no personal attachment to the park who camp on outlying islands and feast on the turtles that come to nest there. Madagascar National Parks Authority is unable to address the situation, because they lack funding for regular patrols and lack the support of local fishermen.
Since 2009, Community Centred Conservation (C3) has worked as a facilitator between Madagascar National Parks Authority and the communities of Nosy Hara Marine Park to find common ground and take conservation initiatives forward. C3 aims to reduce human threats to critically endangered marine species in Nosy Hara Marine Park by raising awareness of environmental issues and empowering young people with the skills needed to be conservation leaders in their communities.
C3’s originally developed the concept of the Junior Ecoguard programme in the Comoros Islands in 2006. The programme has provided young people of the with a means of empowerment through education and harnessing their energy, ideas and enthusiasm to relay marine conservation messages to their wider community. The groups become a source of pride for their communities and our novel awareness-raising activities such as travelling youth theatres have been proven to positively change turtle poachers’ behaviour, therefore directly benefiting the species through reduced exploitation.
By targeting young people, C3 not only facilitates the communication of conservation messages to wider communities but also ensures that the next generation of fishers and primary resource-users have an awareness and understanding that will promote long-term behavioural change and a transition towards sustainability.
The programme has received international awards such as the Volvo Adventure Award in Sweden 2007 (Three times finalists), the ReefCheck Year of the Reef Award and ARKIVE’s creative climate change challenge award.
The programme reinforces C3’s ongoing pioneering Environmental Mortgages project that aims to incentivise a transition towards sustainable natural resource use and non-destructive practices by offering small loans to help economic development and community services such as healthcare and education in return for good environmental stewardship.
Tusk’s most recent grant to C3 will help to establish a network of young environmental leaders - ‘Junior Ecoguards’ within local communities in Nosy Hara Marine Park. Working with the Boy Scouts of Antsiranana, C3 has trained 20 youth from three different communities of the Nosy Hara Marine Park in locally and globally relevant environmental issues with a particular focus on endangered marine species and coral reef fisheries. By targeting young people, C3 not only facilitates the communication of conservation messages to wider communities but also ensures that the next generation of fishers and primary resource-users will have an awareness that will promote long-term behavioural change and a transition towards sustainability.
With the support of Tusk Trust we are currently carrying out an extensive environmental awareness campaign throughout very remote and impoverished fishing communities in northern Madagascar. Messages about the threats to the coastal environment, and in particular endangered species such as dugongs, sea turtles and sharks, are disseminated widely through our Junior Ecoguards programme. Scouts from the urban centre of Diego work with Community Centred Conservation (C3) to create entertaining theatrical performances which provide exciting evening events in otherwise quiet coastal communities. Unanimous positive feedback has been received and pre-and post-project evaluations have proven the events have led to heightened awareness of local marine park rules and endangered species.