2000 local voluntaries to fight fires for their forest
Wildfire are causing losses for the lemurs, for Malagasy but most of all for Madagascar. We are no longer talking about forest coverage but also the loss of natural habitat and ressources that benefit us all. Based on IUCN last study, 98% of the lemurs are threatened of extinction. The same study confirmed that 31% of the lemur species on the red list are in critical danger. And it happens at the same time as the discovery of the 113rd lemur species, Microcebus jonahi, a new species named after Professor Jonah Ratsimbazafy- president of GERP and administrator of Fanamby. That is if we talk about lemurs only. But the wildfire is also causing massive social and economic impacts linked to drought, to soil quality and mostly to water scarcity. It also impact the culture as local communities usually bury their deceased in Nanto (Sapotaceae sp.) and the area is running out of it.
Poaching, illegal logging and wildfire were identified as the main threats of biodiversity loss in the area. However, wildfire has been at the top of the list these past years. According the last update of IUCN, 33 species of lemurs are in the list of critically endangered species. This includes the Propithecus verreauxi and the Microcebus Berthae that are depending on the Menabe Antimena to survive. In fact, the protected area used to be 210 312 ha of haven for endemic species, for tourism but also for local communities.
Fighting fire seems never-ending in the Menabe Antimena but the teamwork is pushing their limit to save their wealth, their forest, for the next generation
In the past years, a local strategy for firefighting at the local level was established. This includes a project supported by USAID Mikajy in building capacity of local youth in monitoring their forest. In December, 20 voluntaries were trained for a system of cascade training. And we can now register 2 000 voluntaries who believe that their forest will no longer recover once swept in flammes. These volunteers are monitoring fire are the local level and record their patrols as well as any identified wildfire in order to gather data. Further, the data will enable to identify the evolution of the wildfire within the protected area and to act on time. Overal, 15.1 m of firewall were established to limit fire propagation. In fact, these firewalls limited the propagation of wildfire in Lambokely and Kiboy.
Despite all these efforts, Menabe Antimena is still in danger. Furthermore, Madagascar is in danger as water gets scarced, as desertification is moving toward the northern part of the island, and as its population loses their cultural values.
However, Fanamby believes that long term commitment from all, donors and actors, can restore the area. It will take time to heal even though time is what we are missing now.