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Centering local communities in Madagascar’s forest conservation

March 1, 2022

Madagascar’s forests store substantial amounts of carbon and are home to several species found nowhere else on the planet. They are critical environments to conserve, given their biodiversity and their role in mitigating climate change. Yet local people, or forest-edge communities, often lack a voice in discussions on how to protect these forests and tackle climate change.  

The Forest4Climate&People project supported under the Climate Adaptation and Resilience (CLARE) initiative, worked to put local people at the centre of decisions on forest conservation and restoration. The ultimate aim is to ensure that forest carbon programs are not only more effective but also pro-poor.  

The IDRC-supported project worked to shorten the gap between forest-edge communities and policymakers. One way this was done was by centering the voices and lived experiences of forest-edge communities in national and international policy discussions.  

For example, the team developed a video, “Voices from the forest: Putting local people at the heart of decisions about tropical forest’s contributions to tackling climate change,” which highlights the experiences of forest-edge communities. The film has already been widely used for policy engagements, including aiding discussions between local communities and decision-makers and bringing local voices to the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It was also featured on BBC Radio 4.  

The research team shared the video with the communities that were featured in it, as a way to share the research and emerging outputs. Research fellow Sarobidy Rakotonarivo said: “sharing the film with local community members was so satisfying. They were delighted to see their concerns and perspectives so well captured. The film also made it easier for community members to have open and honest conversations with policymakers.” 

As a result of ongoing engagements with the research team and the government, the Malagasy Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development expressed appreciation for the team’s research and how they are integrating the information to improve the management of Madagascar’s protected areas, ensuring local people are taken into consideration. The minister invited the team to help review and update key conservation policies related to their engagement with forest-edge communities. 

Research Highlights

  • Madagascar’s forests play a critical role in climate-change mitigation and have high biodiversity.  

  • The IDRC-supported project Forest4Climate&People works to ensure local communities are at the centre of efforts to conserve Madagascar’s forests. 

  • The project used video as a tool for policy engagements to share experiences and enable conversations between community members and decision-makers.