ANTANANARIVO – This week, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) joined a host of Malagasy officials and private stakeholders to launch a new comprehensive National Mangrove Strategy to protect Madagascar’s mangroves and support the livelihoods of communities that border mangroves.
The event, on the International Day for Conservation of Mangroves, marks the official release of a national plan that includes operational guidance, resources, and governance tools for use by organizations working around mangroves. The publication of this plan is the culmination of nearly four years of strategic collaboration led by USAID through its Hay Tao project.
“This new strategy defines the integrated nature of mangrove management and clarifies the need to address the inextricably linked land, water, and wildlife present in mangrove ecosystems to ensure proper management,” Anna Brenes, USAID’s Acting Environment Office Director said at the launch. “It is critical that we continue to protect, restore, and maximize the benefits of mangroves to coastal communities and Madagascar as a whole.”
Participating in the event were representatives of Madagascar’s Ministries of Agriculture and Livestock; Environment and Sustainable Development; and Fisheries and Blue Economy, along with other stakeholders such as NGOs, academia, and private sector actors. These stakeholders were able to develop the first comprehensive strategy for mangrove management in the history of Madagascar.
As of 2019, there are about 391,000 hectares of mangroves in Madagascar. These ecosystems help protect coastal communities from the effects of cyclones, provide habitat for many species of fish and crustaceans, improve the health of local fisheries, and regulate the climate by storing large amounts of carbon. Effective management of mangroves is critical to protect both the environment and the livelihoods in hundreds of coastal communities.
In addition to USAID Hay Tao, the U.S. government supports mangrove restoration in the Menabe region through the USAID Mikajy project and the United States Forest Service. These initiatives support the establishment of locally-managed marine areas through which local communities protect and restore mangroves, reduce destructive fishing practices, and improve natural resource governance through community patrols and monitoring.
The U.S. government and the Government of Madagascar are working together like “mpirahalahy mianala” to protect the country’s unparalleled biodiversity and precious natural resources.
Since 2013, the United States 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.