Accelerating regeneration and providing alternative livelihoods in Madagascar’s dry forests

Understanding the effects of dry forest degradation and fires on biodiversity to inform accelerated forest restoration by local communities in Ankarafantsika National Park.

Burned forest in Madagascar shows bear ground with some small shrubs reemerging. The trees are blackened and bare of leaves. In the distance, green plant-filled grassland and villages can be seen.

In Madagascar, thousands of wildfires are detected each year, but the greater frequency and severity is now a significant cause for concern as they increasingly penetrate forests and erode biodiversity.

Very little is known about the ecology of Madagascar’s dry forests, however, we are uniquely positioned to research and monitor the natural recovery of these forests from severe burns, and provide information essential for regeneration success.

We will follow guidelines outlined in the ‘ten golden rules for reforestation’ (Di Sacco, et al., 2021), to provide Ankarafantsika National Park forest managers and local communities with a ‘dry forest manual for restoration’ detailing species selection, seed collection, storage, germination and seedling management for restoration.

The project will be divided into 3 work packages:
1. High-resolution aerial and ground surveys of forest quality and potential restoration sites.
2. Ecological and horticultural profiling of framework tree species for effective forest restoration.
3. Community livelihood development in tree production for forest restoration and climate resilience.

We will 1) identify areas of early forest regeneration suitable for restoration, 2) identify the native species suitable for enhancing forest restoration, and 3) assist the communities in developing restoration-based livelihoods as an alternative to forest charcoal production.

We will emphasise low technological innovations in methodology manual and guides for local communities, NGO nurseries, and Protected Area managers that includes dry forest seed selection, collection, germination, and propagation, to help increase the effectiveness of local forest restoration activities.

The project will also develop a methodology using UAVs to map and monitor natural forest regeneration, to both add greater resolution to satellite imagery whilst reducing the need for extensive ground-truthing and identify areas suitable for restoration.

Project photos

This project combines UAV drones, 3D modelling and community conservation to monitor Madagascar's dry forests and work towards their restoration.

Williams, J. et al.

Ankarafantsika National Park Madagascar Forest Fires: Survey, Assess, Restore.

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, 2020

Guardian Observer Charity Appeal