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Avoiding deforestation and securing livelihoods in Makira, Madagascar
Since WCS established the Makira Carbon Project in 2003, we have prevented the clearing of over 6,000 ha of tropical forest and the release of 1.7 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Sales of certified Makira carbon on the voluntary market have already generated $350,000 for management of Makira National Park, and an additional $800,00 for community livelihood projects on the periphery of the park.
In the last 50 years Madagascar’s human population has grown 4-fold to 22 million. At the same time over 40 percent of the nation’s remaining forest was cleared for agriculture and by loggers and fuel wood collectors; almost 90% of Madagascar’s forests have been lost since humans colonized the island Makira National Park (3,720 km2) and the surrounding community lands (3,500 km2) constitute the largest block of intact forest remaining in the country. These intact forests support the highest diversity of lemur species and over 50% of Madagascar plant biodiversity. WCS manages the park, for the Government, in collaboration with 67 community organizations that represent the 48,000 people who live in villages bordering the protected area. To help finance the management of the park and as a tangible economic incentive for local families to conserve the forest, WCS initiated the Makira Carbon Project in 2003 in partnership with the Government. Makira Carbon was the first Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) project implemented in Madagascar and has secured certification under both the Verified Carbon Standards and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards. In December 2013, the Project was the first in Africa to sell Government-owned forest carbon credits on the voluntary market.
As a result of project activities deforestation rates were halved from 0.15% to 0.07% per year, avoiding the clearing of over 6,000 ha of forest and cutting emissions of CO2 by 1.7 million tons.
Economic benefits from the project have provided local families with tangible incentives to conserve the forest and its critically endangered lemurs. Between 2014 and 2015 the number of infractions within the National Park declined by 18%.
Active participation of community members in making decision about access and use of natural resources has increased compliance with conservation rules and elevated awareness of threats to the forest.
In addition to avoiding emissions of global warming gasses and generating substantial funds for managing Markira National Park the project has help local farmers to triple the productivity of their rice farming from 2 to 6 metric tonnes per hectare thus reducing the pressure to clear forest for rice cultivation. The increase in farm production has helped double household annual income from US $159 to $320.
With WCS support, an increase in rice productivity and income from rice sales reduced the need for forest clearing, protecting 5,000 hectares of forest that would have been converted to agriculture.
Sales of forest carbon have already generated $350,000 to support management of Makira National Park in Madagascar and contributed $800,000 for community livelihood security projects.