Madagascar grants to conserve island and boost infrastructure

Ten grants totalling over US $2.8 million have been pledged to support conservation and sustainable development in Madagascar by the MacArthur Foundation.

Four of the grants will help conserve large land and seascape areas on and around the island. The Wildlife Conservation Society will receive US $650,000 to go towards the maintenance of Masoala National Park, as well as helping to set up the Makira conservation site and establish an ecological monitoring programme.

The WWF's Madagascar Programme will also be given over US $300,000 in order to begin the process of formally establishing the Nosy Hara Archipelago as a designated marine protected area.

According to the WWF, the funds would enable it: "to represent and conserve the biodiversity and ecological goods and services of the Nosy Hara Archipelago Conservation Area in perpetuity, and to promote sustainable utilisation in order to meet local community needs and contribute to national and regional economic development strategies."

The remaining two land and seascape grants, both of around US $300,000, will go towards developing training courses in marine protected area management, as well as building up the capacity of community institutions to manage the coastal resources of Masoala National Park.

Six more grants have also been announced to help to build and strengthen Malagasy conservation institutions, covering wildlife, birdlife and environmental issues. They will also be used to provide the financial resources and technical expertise to engage local communities in the conservation of their environment.

"Supporting an extraordinary diversity of ecosystems and species, Madagascar's relative isolation has made it one of the world's most biologically important places," said Jonathan Fanton, president of the MacArthur Foundation.

"Almost 90% of Madagascar's land mammals, reptiles and flowering plants are found nowhere else on earth," he added. "Our support will help safeguard this rich biodiversity by conserving large land and seascapes, and by building the infrastructure, including academic, governmental and non-governmental institutions, that is necessary to ensure long-term protection."

By Jane Kettle



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