Madagascar: Makira REDD+

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1 project focus Madagascar: Makira REDD+ Madagascar is considered to be one of the top five biodiversity hotspots in the world due to more than 75% of all animal and plant species being endemic while less than 10% of its primary vegetation is remaining 1. The Makira project plays an essential role in biodiversity protection by limiting deforestation in 360,000 hectares (more than twice the size of Greater London) of the Makira forest and working with communities around the forest in a protection zone of 320,000 hectares. The Makira project is focused on five main areas: transfer management of natural resources to communities, community development, communication and education, ecosystem conservation and research, and carbon accounting and monitoring. Project type: Conservationbased forest management Region: Africa Standards:

2 The project Despite its ecosystem importance, the Makira area has seen an unsustainable use of resources and forest loss, estimated at 1,500 hectares per year from 1995 to In the absence of the project, it is projected that these forest loss rates would continue and increase but through the successful implementation it is estimated that the deforestation rate will reduce to approximately 70 hectares per year. Forest loss is estimated at 1,500 hectares per year from 1995 to 2005 Local communities are involved in the negotiations and management of the project. The goal of the project is to engage with and improve the livelihood of a population of 50,000+ people living within 120 villages inside the protection zone around the project area. Local communities are involved in the negotiations and management of the project through a network of community associations. Land tenure security and resource rights for the communities are also improved through legal land certifications transferred from the national government. The community development activities are planned with the communities in order to identify and prioritise their needs. The initial development goals are based on improving agricultural productivity, creating alternative sustainable activities, improving access and quality of health services, and education. The Makira project has committed to distributing over 50% of net revenue from carbon sales to the communities and these activities. Prior to the project, farmers were using traditional farming techniques, which proved labour and capital intensive, yielded low productivity, and degraded the land beyond the first cycle of slash and burn. The project is helping households to adopt alternative techniques that replace these destructive and unsustainable methods. These activities include: improved intensive rice cultivation, soil fertility enhancement through composting, and improved crop rotation practices. The system of rice intensification includes techniques that are based on improving water management, plus weed and pest control. Contribution to sustainable development The project contributes to sustainable development in several areas: Biodiversity protection With its important role as one of Madagascar s last great wilderness areas, protecting its exceptional biodiversity value is the Makira project s key focus. Of any country in Africa, Madagascar contains the greatest number of total animal species classified as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable, under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and also has the third largest number of plant species under the same IUCN classifications 2. The protection of the forest is essential to ensuring that the species populations found in the area are able to survive. Fragmentation of the forest into smaller patches due to deforestation will limit the viability of the flora and fauna found there. For instance, lemurs play an important role in seed dispersal and the subsequent natural forest regeneration. The reduction in their population caused by deforestation also slows down forest regrowth, thereby further exacerbating forest fragmentation.

3 Water scarcity has been a problem for communities in the area in terms of both health and agriculture Ecological monitoring is central to the project s design and activities and includes monitoring of forest habitat loss and fragmentation, forest corridors and connectivity and species loss. There is a particular focus on lemur species populations and forest carnivores as they provide a tool for assessing the overall forest system functionality. In addition, the project has also initiated a field-based monitoring plan with local community members whereby four to six people in each community site are trained and monitor certain indicators quarterly, including status of key floral and faunal species and nature and frequency of pressures and human disturbances. Water stewardship Water scarcity has been a problem for communities in the area in terms of both health and agriculture. The project is helping to improve water infrastructure by constructing community dams, irrigation channels, and wells and water points. As of December 2013, 22 water points/ wells had been constructed and over 2,000 households were benefiting from a hydro-agricultural dam. Additionally, a healthy forest has an important role in the water cycle and helps maintain rainfall and water reserves, particularly important for the local reliance on rice. Deforestation exposes fragile topsoil to rainfall in an already vulnerable area (due to hilly topography), which can accelerate erosion and sediment levels in numerous streams and rivers. Erosion and sedimentation degrade aquatic habitats but also leads to further land conversion as farmers try to compensate for the loss of irrigated rice fields by moving to new forested areas to use as cropland. Health & well-being Lack of basic health services and malnutrition are the prime causes of mortality in the region. In collaboration with Population Services International (PSI), MedAir and local representatives of the Ministry of Health, the project is delivering a programme to improve knowledge and facilities for basic hygiene, sanitation, good health practices and disease prevention. As of December 2013, the project had trained 137 agents from 16 rural communities to advise households on general health, first treatment of common illnesses such as diarrhoea and malaria, family planning and water hygiene. Previously this information was unavailable in such a remote area and, by the end of 2013, nearly 6,500 households and 35,000 individuals had benefited from the health and awareness campaign. Financial security The project provides training for communities on additional activities which help to generate alternative household revenues, including systems of rice intensification, improved fish farming, bee keeping, eco-tourism, artisanal craft and hostelry, and market-based cash cropping (vanilla, clove, coffee and cacao). In collaboration with organisations such as Fair Trade Africa (FTA), the project is also helping participants gain access to new markets by identifying and establishing opportunities to sell sustainably produced natural products, such as certified fair trade biovanilla, bio-clove and eco-silk. To help with the development of some of these activities, the project is working with the

4 Tany Meva Foundation, a national community-focused foundation, to establish a rural micro-credit programme that provides low interest loans to communities exclusively for supporting green activities (prior to the project there were no microfinance institutions available to communities). For example, these micro-credit loans could be used by farmers to purchase tools required for improved agriculture techniques or for purchasing bags for saplings, buying grains, cassava, or other cash crops. The project is helping support the construction of ecotourism sites including bungalows, camp sites, cooking area and sanitation facilities and has provided training to local people to be guides. In 2014, the average household incomes had more than doubled from levels at the start of the project The project has established 22 environmental youth clubs to help raise awareness on the importance of conservation Education & skills By facilitating training on rice intensification and other sustainable agricultural activities, the project helps provide knowledge sharing platforms around alternative income generating activities and land use best practice techniques. Working with the district-level government education office, the project has established 22 environmental youth clubs to help raise awareness on the importance of conservation. Approximately 60 educators are available in the area to help integrate conservation education into the curriculum while other teaching tools and materials have also been adopted in community schools. Infrastructure development There are plans to invest in community infrastructure, which has already started with the rehabilitation and construction of community schools. Land tenure security and resource rights for the communities are improved through legal land certifications transferred from the national government. The construction of the community dams, irrigation channels and water points has contributed to the improved water management infrastructure in the area. Energy access The project has established approximately 20 village tree nurseries to improve the availability of legal fuel wood for the local communities. Job creation The project land is owned by the State of Madagascar, which has appointed the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to manage the area and address the deforestation pressures. WCS currently employs 60 Malagasy nationals in the management of Makira and aims to increase employment opportunities to more than 100 by Climate adaptation The project has qualified for Gold Level status under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity standard; in part, due to its climate change adaptation benefits. Studies conclude that climate change is likely to impact the well-being of the communities and the biodiversity in the region. However, many of the project s activities help address those threats and assist. For example, to help communities adapt to impacts of floods on food security and income generation, the project is constructing dams and irrigation channels which help improve agricultural practices and infrastructure, and diversify crops.

5 The region The Makira project area, which is the vast majority of Makira Natural Park, is 360,000 hectares of dense primary forest. This is the area which is used for the carbon accounting and sale of carbon credits. Around the project area is a protection zone of 320,000+ hectares which makes up a buffer area and is where the majority of the local communities live. The project is estimated to generate an average 1.3 million tonnes of carbon emissions reductions annually and more than 38 million tonnes of emission reductions in its 30 year crediting period. The Makira REDD+ project, which refers to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, is validated and verified to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). In order to generate carbon credits from its forest protection activities, the project must use regional land use and deforestation modelling and run a detailed analysis of the existing forest carbon. Forest cover change is monitored through periodic assessment of land satellite imagery. The Makira Project is located in the Makira forests in north eastern Madagascar, 40 km west of the town of Maroantsetra. The project is estimated to generate 1.3m tonnes of carbon emissions reductions annually In addition to its VCS validation for carbon accounting, the project has also achieved Gold Level status under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) standard. To achieve this it delivers net positive community and biodiversity impacts and significantly assists communities in adapting to the impacts of climate change. Impacts are monitored through assessments of child mortality, literacy and education rates, agricultural productivity, average household income and income from new activities such as bee keeping and fish farming. Location The Makira project is located in the Makira forests in north eastern Madagascar, 40 km west of the town of Maroantsetra. 1 Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities, Nature 2 Contact us: London: Bravington House, 2 Bravington Walk, Regent Quarter, London, N1 9AF, United Kingdom T +44 (0) New York: 475 Park Avenue South, 23rd Floor, New York, NY USA T

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