Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Robert T. Yamate

Ribbon-cutting at the New Education Building – Centre Valbio

Ranomafana – March 16, 2018

The Honorable Minister of Environment

The Honorable Dr. Patricia Wright,

I am so very happy to be here with you all today, to make one last visit to this beautiful campus and its amazing founder, Dr. Patricia Wright, and to lay the foundations for its future growth, before I end my time as Ambassador of the United States to Madagascar.

Prior to Centre ValBio, economic survival of the rural communities of this area was based exclusively on the overuse of natural resources.   Dr.  Wright, with her background as a social worker before becoming one of the world’s leading primatologists, found this situation unacceptable for humans and animals alike.   The people needed a healthy ecosystem, if their villages and their local culture were to survive and thrive.  And the forests, with the unique flora and fauna that exist only here, needed more people with the knowledge, skill and commitment to their preservation if they were to flourish.

So from the beginning, this Center has been a place that has been about helping the people and the environment, hand in hand.  In addition to the conservation of the bamboo habitat and the long-term conservation of the lemurs, the Centre is committed to developing ecologically sustainable economic development programs, such as support for local production of medicinal plants, reforestation, conservation clubs, and ecotourism.

And today I am truly honored to help inaugurate the next phase of Val Bio’s growth, the Biodiversity Center.  The research already conducted at Centre ValBio contributes to the understanding of tropical rainforests in Madagascar with implications for rainforest conservation throughout the world.   This new Biodiversity Center will help ValBio continue support the work of hundreds of scientists, teachers and students whose findings provide valuable information on the threatened biodiversity of Madagascar.

So I want to congratulate Dr. Wright for her vision, for her many years of service to the people and the wildlife of Madagascar, for having the vision to see what was possible for this area and for having the determination to see her vision through.  I want to thank the Minister of the Environment, for the support the government of Madagascar has shown to ValBio and continues to show for the work done here.  I want to thank all the public and private partners and donors who have contributed to the success of ValBio so far, and to encourage them to invest their resources into this new project.  And I want to thank the people of Ranomafana, for committing themselves to the lifelong, the generations long task, of living sustainably with the beauty that surrounds us.

Thank you for letting me join in your hard work today, and for inviting me in helping place this first stone on the path towards your future.