Most of Madagascar’s wetlands have either been lost or severely degraded. Wetland species have declined dramatically as their habitats have disappeared and rural communities, the majority of whom are heavily reliant on natural resources, have suffered as from loss of ecosystem services.
As wetlands are integral to so many areas of life; they are also subject to wide-ranging policy and regulation from a number of different sectors, including environmental protection, agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries and forestry. Different site-based management approaches have been adopted for different wetlands in Madagascar, but the lessons learnt are rarely shared and broader catchment-scale management is lacking. Many smaller wetland sites have limited resources and struggle to know what considerations should be taken.
WWT is working with the Ministry of the Environment, Ecology and Forests of the Malagasy Government, to develop National Wetland Guidance, bringing together policy, legislation and best-practice examples to provide concise information to support site managers and other stakeholders managing wetlands. The guidance is being developed using a participatory approach, with multi-stakeholder workshops and study tours undertaken to Lac Alaotra, Torotorofotsy and Lac Kinkony. Participants on the trips included representatives from: the Ministry of the Environment, Ecology and Forests; Ministry of Fishing Resources and Fisheries; National Programme for Watersheds and Irrigation (BVPI); regional government offices; and local and international NGOs (Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Asity Madagascar and The Peregrine Fund).
The tours helped to develop a shared understanding among key stakeholders of the values and importance of wetlands and create a forum for discussions and debate of the specific issues facing Madagascar’s wetlands. Highlights of the study tours include:
- A canoe trip around Lake Kinkony to see where local communities, with assistance from Asity, are actively restoring the marsh habitat.
- A meeting in Vohitsara Commune, Lake Alaotra, where members of the fishing community explained the challenge of trying to provide for their families during the closed fishing season.
The first draft of the guidance is now complete and was reviewed at a multi-stakeholder workshop in March 2017.