U.S. Embassy Recognizes Malagasy Researcher for Her Extraordinary Efforts to Protect Madagascar’s Natural Resources

ANTANANARIVO – In a January 27 ceremony, U.S. Ambassador Michael Pelletier recognized Dr. Harisoa Ravaomanalina with the Champions of Madagascar “Mpiaradia” Award for her unwavering dedication to conserving and protecting Madagascar’s natural environment.  Dr. Harisoa is a top researcher at the University of Antananarivo and co-founder of the Groupe des Spécialistes et Passionnés des Baobabs de Madagascar.

“We are extremely excited to work with [Dr. Harisoa], like ‘mpiarahalahy mianala isika,’ to help Madagascar protect its natural resources for the benefit of the Malagasy people now and for future generations to come,” Ambassador Pelletier said.

With funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Harisoa has worked since 2018 to establish Madagascar’s first reference library for precious woods.  Her efforts are helping Malagasy authorities combat illicit timber trafficking by enabling them to more easily identify the nation’s wide range of endemic tree species.

“I am happy to be recognized for my research skills, commitment to protecting the environment, and for serving as a strong role model for female scientists,” Dr. Harisoa said.  “Through these ongoing projects, I hope to help Malagasy authorities identify precious woods like rosewood and ebony – and keep them from being exported illegally out of Madagascar.”

The new wood reference library, known as the Xylotheque, also houses two XyloTrons, digital imaging devices that authorities can use in the field to identify wood species.  The devices were donated by the U.S. Forest Service and the Forest Products Laboratory.

The United States is committed to working with dedicated individuals like Dr. Harisoa and side-by-side with the Government of Madagascar, like “mpiarahalahy mianala,” to combat timber trafficking.  Timber trafficking is a serious transnational crime that threatens national security, undermines economic prosperity, fuels corruption, and even spreads disease.

Since 2013, the U.S. government has committed more than $55 million to programs that promote sustainability, improve livelihoods for local communities, bolster governance of natural resources, strengthen actions to stop international wildlife trafficking, and protect thousands of hectares from illegal and unsustainable exploitation.