Mobilising Freshwater Biodiversity Information for Better Representation within Protected Areas in Madagascar
Freshwater ecosystems are globally undervalued in terms of the biodiversity they support and the services they provide to people The inland wetlands of Madagascar, which are extensive with more than 300km of rivers and streams, and about 2,000 km2 of lakes, are also suffering badly such that approximately 85% of the 100 endemic freshwater fish species assessed back in 2004 were found to be threatened. In order to help address this issue CEPF have funded IUCN, in partnership with Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) in Madagascar, to run a two year project to improve the conservation of freshwater biodiversity throughout the Madagascar and Indian Ocean Islands biodiversity hotspot, partly through facilitating greater representation of freshwater species within the nation’s protected areas network. Data will be collated to enable completion of IUCN Red List assessments for a number of representative freshwater species groups and the subsequent identification, delineation and validation of freshwater Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs). The focus is on all native freshwater fishes, molluscs, dragonflies and damselflies, selected plants, and decapods (crayfish, crabs and shrimps).
Work to get the project up and running started in July 2015 and has initially focused on setting up the partnership with MBG and contacting potential species experts in Madagascar and internationally. As the basis for the Red List assessments we have also started to create a threat map for Madagascar so that all Red List assessors will have access to the same pooled information to better inform their species assessments. The Red List assessments themselves will be starting early in January 2016, aiming to be completed in time for a review workshop in July 2016. We aim to assess more than 600 species. Once completed, the information will be used in the second part of the project to identify and delineate freshwater Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) as a potential focus for conservation efforts and development of the protected areas network to better represent freshwater species MBG will be ensuring the project outputs are shared and discussed with Système d’Aires Protégées de Madagascar (SAPM).
William Darwall, Ph.D
Head – Freshwater Biodiversity Unit
IUCN Global Species Programme