Madagascar's biodiversity is of extremely high international significance, yet comprehensive efforts to assess current knowledge and set priorities have been absent until recently. Beginning in April 1995, a major participatory effort to assess the country's scientific and conservation priorities was undertaken in Madagascar. This process laid important groundwork for the revision of Madagascar's National Environmental Action Plan. The first stage of the process was a scientific priority-setting workshop. Over one hundred experts, organized in thematic groups, reached consensus on biodiversity priorities for the island, based on cross-discipline comparisons. A principal finding of the workshop is that many areas of outstanding biodiversity and research importance are located outside protected areas. Participants also agreed that corridors needed to be created between the high-priority protected areas in order to maintain gene flow and exchange of species. The second stage of the process was a stakeholder consultation which integrated scientific findings, national priorities, local stakeholder views, and donor input. The stakeholder consultation concluded that a collaborative, regional approach was needed to augment site-based conservation activities. Participants also emphasized that institutional strengthening in forestry and parks agencies needed much higher priority. The net result of the process was the adoption of a landscape approach to conservation which integrates regional planning, biodiversity monitoring and institutional strengthening.
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