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The Role of Local People in the Successful Maintenance of Protected Areas in Madagascar

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 August 2009

Joanna C. Durbin
Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NX, England, UK
Jonny A. Ralambo
WWF/ANGAP/MEF Projet Andohahela, BP 42, Tolagnaro 614, Madagascar.


In Madagascar, as practically throughout the world, many protected areas were originally created with little consideration for the resource requirements of local people and consequently are now suffering from acute pressure from local exploitation. In an attempt to redress the problems, integrated conservation and development projects have been initiated. The original aims to protect a representative ecocomplex are now expected to be achieved by understanding people's requirements and enhancing traditional practices or providing alternatives, and the aims have been expanded to promote the sustainable use of resources also outside of reserves.

These two projects, at Andohahela and Soalala, are duly considered, using a framework that has been developed to understand local people's behaviour in relation to resources. Economic, energy, cultural, and ecological, factors, acting as interdependent systems, are considered. The economic, energy, and cultural, factors influence each other, acting together to define the values or resources to people and driving their behaviour in relation to those resources. The behaviour affects the ecological system and may alter the availability of useful resources, depending on the level of use and their resilience. The availability of resources affects the energetic effort required to collect them, so establishing a feedback link.

The aims of the projects are to establish ecological equilibria that protect the reserves and enable sustainable use to be made of resources outside the reserve. To achieve these goals they must influence people's behaviour suitably. Strategies include strengthening feedback from the ecological system, and providing energy or economic incentives. Development activities which aim to promote sustainable use of resources and protect biodiversity, through maintenance of the protected area, are assessed. Many projects give a high priority to income generation and improved access to social services; however, the conservation aims of a project often require a better targeted, resource management-based development package. This paper advocates the consideration of economic, energy, ecological, and above all cultural, factors in the design of effective activities for conservation and development projects.

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Copyright © Foundation for Environmental Conservation 1994

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