Local socio-economic effects of protected area conservation: The case of Maromizaha forest, Madagascar
The vision Madagascar Naturally aimed to triple the size of protected areas in Madagascar from 1.7 million hectares to 6 million hectares before 2008, in order to ensure the safe guarding of Madagascar’s natural heritage and the human well-being that depends on it. In 2008, Maromizaha forest was selected by the Ministry of Environment and Forests tobecome a New Protected Area where the delegated manager is the Groupe d’Etude et de Recherche sur les Primates de Madagascar (GERP). One of GERP’s strategies is to provide support to the livelihoods of the local people around the Maromizaha protected area in order to reduce the dependency on natural resources. During April 2014, GERP organized a rapid socio-economic survey of 70 households across six villages, in order to make a preliminary, comparison and assessment of this development support and its impact on the main income generating activities of the local people, their highest level of formal education in 2008 and 2014, and their thinking about conservation offsetting. The results showed that in 2014, 70% of local people were engaged in agriculture and less than 40% in cattle farming. Some villagers have benefited from pilot development projects organized by financial and environmental organizations. Other local people benefited from other livelihood activities related to the conservation management of the forest. Most participants were aware of the ecosystem services of the forests (94.3%) and the education level has increased from 2008 to 2014, although even in 2014, 56% of the survey participants were educated only to primary school level; the rate of illiteracy is at 15.6%. We summarize some strengths, weaknesses and recommendations in order to improve the management of the Maromizaha Protected Area.