In Madagascar, the forests are at a detriment. Traditional farming methods left the villagers believing that only clearing forests and burning the remains could open a plot to grow rice to provide basic substantive food for the community. Over the last few years, this has turned into a battle for survival. It is the forest or us, they thought.
Luckily, villages in Madagascar are now learning new alternative agricultural methods that aim at protecting forests. These new alternative agricultural methods understand that people’s subsistence needs are among the pressures weighing on forests and wildlife that live in them.
The new methods find a balance between the growing needs of the community and the needs of the forests to protect critically endangered endemic species such as lemurs, golden mantilla and Madagascan grebe.
Since 2000, Madagascar has experienced a loss of 45% of its forests. This loss caused habitat fragmentation leading to an increase in human-wildlife interactions. Essentially, the fewer wild habitat species have, the more they have to live close to communities. And until recently, wildlife that approached villages was highly poached.
With these new alternative agricultural methods, villagers have far more promising opportunities than poaching and forest destruction can offer. With this, forests thrive and human-wildlife interactions are reduced.
The shift to new agricultural methods in Madagascar is accompanied by a communication campaign that aims to;
a) Raise awareness and educate villagers and farmers about conservation problems
b) Make villagers understand the consequences that deforestation and wildlife loss has on the community and subsistence
c) Empower villagers to make informed decisions
This approach of improving people’s means of subsistence to promote conservation and reduce, in this case, pressure on the environment, is becoming a common activity among conservation programs worldwide and something you could explore in your project to reduce human-wildlife conflict.