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CEPF Madagascar Vegetation Mapping - COMPLETED (2007)

Madagascar Vegetation Mapping project, informing conservation and decision makers.
Madagascar Vegetation Atlas, Published in 2007

Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island, and is recognized as one of the world’s top ten hotspots for biodiversity. It is estimated that there are about 10,000 plant species on the island. Of these, 80 % or more occur nowhere else. Man arrived in Madagascar just 2,000 years ago and since has cleared much of the island’s forest. This impact and the uniqueness of its plants have made Madagascar of paramount importance to international conservation efforts.


The CEPF Madagascar Vegetation Mapping project was a three year project (2003-2006), funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and managed jointly by RBG Kew, Missouri Botanical Garden, and Conservation International’s Center for Applied Biodiversity Science. The project was a huge success and culminated in the production of a printed vegetation atlas in 2007.

This first vegetation atlas for Madagascar has combined vegetation data from fieldwork and satellite images into a map-based information system. The result is a conservation tool which will help Madagascar’s government and people to plan a more sustainable future. This atlas is also of great use to anyone studying or visiting the island. The atlas is both French and English, gives a brief history of vegetation mapping in Madagascar; the methodology used in compiling these new maps and detailed descriptions of each vegetation type, illustrated with photographs and diagrams. Trends in deforestation, extent of occurrence and levels of protection are assessed for each vegetation type. Additional information includes roads, trails, rivers, airports, reserves and a full place name index.

The project was innovative in a number of ways. It employs state of the art remote sensing technology and methodologies to delimit Madagascar’s vegetation. It represents an all-inclusive collaboration between specialists from a wide range of botanical and conservation institutions, which will result in the most thoroughly ground-truthed vegetation map ever compiled for Madagascar. Finally, through a series of workshops, it incorporates detailed consultations with the conservation community to ensure that the final products are of maximum relevance and utility to conservation planners and natural resource managers.

Over the next few years the Government of Madagascar aims to increase protected areas from a total of 1.7 million to 6 million hectares. This new vegetation map has made a significant contribution to this ‘Durban Vision Process’, providing accurate baseline data on the current extent of remaining primary vegetation. The data and vegetation map is freely available to all conservation organisations, Government departments, academic institutions and other stakeholders so that they have the best information on which to assess, monitor and manage biological diversity both within and outside the existing protected areas.
The main project outputs are:

  1. a printed vegetation map in the form of a 64 page road atlas (2007)
  2. delivery of all Landsat and MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) products, all co-registered, to Madagascan conservation-based collaborators, researchers and other stakeholders
  3. a revised vegetation classification scheme for Madagascar, developed, published and made accessible to non-specialists through the Madagascar Biodiversity Network and through the Project website
  4. Malagasy personnel trained in the use of remote sensing and GIS for conservation purposes
  5. a network of botanists, conservationists and other stakeholders working in collaboration throughout Madagascar
  6. See the old website ( for more information.
  7. website, with downloadable data, field data, maps and classification system

Key publications 2006 - 2011

  • Moat*, J. & Smith*, P.P. (2007). Atlas of the vegetation of Madagascar / Atlas de la vegetation de Madagascar. London: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 1-124 pp


Project partners and collaborators

MadagascarParc botanique et Zoologique de Tsimbazaza (PBZT)
UKEnvironmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), UK

Centre for Applied Biodiversity Science (CI)
Conservation International (CI)
Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF)
Missouri Botanical Garden

Project Department

Project Leader: