MORONDAVA – At a ceremony held yesterday at the famous Avenue of the Baobabs, U.S. Ambassador Claire A. Pierangelo joined representatives from the ministries of Land Management Services and Environment and Sustainable Development and other stakeholders to hand over new U.S. government-supported land use and management plans to prevent further destruction of the Menabe Antimena Protected Area and the Kirindy Mitea, while at the same time encouraging the economic development of the region.
These land use and management plans were developed with the input of the communities surrounding the protected area and Kirindy Mitea. The U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Hay Tao and Mikajy projects provided financial and technical support to train stakeholders how to draft these critical blueprints for sustainable economic development while also implementing robust protections for local biodiversity.
Over the last decade, a steady influx of migrants from the deep South have resettled in communities surrounding the protected area. These new plans clarify where the migrants and existing communities now live and farm, delineate the official boundary of the protected area, and prescribe actions that communities can take to ensure they are using natural resources on their land in a sustainable way to maximize their economic benefits.
The Menabe Antimena Protected Area is home to many unique and endemic species, including Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur — the smallest primate in the world. Despite the rich biodiversity of the area, it faces many challenges, including rapid deforestation due to illegal cultivation of corn and illegal harvesting of precious hardwoods to the detriment of the local communities who depend on a healthy forest. Thanks to these new plans, many of these migrants and existing communities now have legal options available for them to support their families.
“These plans will help the people of Menabe thrive economically while also preserving this unique and rare landscape for their children, the people of Madagascar, and the world,” Ambassador Pierangelo said. “By clearly delineating boundaries between the settlements and the protected area, we can make optimal use of the limited land available.”
The United States stands side by side with Madagascar like mpirahalahy mianala to help safeguard the country’s unique biodiversity. Since 2013, USAID has committed more than $60 million in 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 exploitation.