In central Madagascar, the Amoron’i Mania region is home to the largest area of Tapia forests. These endemic species are the last surviving primary forests in the Malagasy highlands, which are divided in three different districts: Manandriana, Ilaka-Ambohimanjaka and Ambatofinandrahana.
Tapia forests offer many benefits, including climate change mitigation and protection from soil erosion. They are also a significant element of the local subsistence and exchange economy for wild silkworms, fruit, wood, fuel, mushrooms, and herbal medicines. While it does not dominate other regional revenue sources, the Amoron’i Mania region is the largest supplier of wild silk cocoons used by local artisans and exported across the country. As such, the protection and management of the Tapia forests are of utmost importance to Madagascar.
For centuries, the Malagasy peoples have shaped, protected, and maintained the Tapia woodlands. The indigenous management includes controlled burning, which favors the dominance of pyrophytic tapia trees and protects silkworms from parasites. It also involves selective cutting of non-tapia species and pruning of dead branches for tapia dominance and growth. Finally, local- and state-imposed regulations protect the woodlands from over-exploitation. These processes of burning, cutting and protecting are embedded in complex and dynamic social, political, economic and ecological contexts that are essential to the existence of Tapia woodlands.
Unfortunately, the Tapia ecosystems are rapidly being degraded by human destruction through bush fires, excessive production of firewood and charcoal, agriculture expansion, and by the invasion of non-native species introduced for reforestation purposes.
To this end, SGP has partnered with Ala Tapia Manandriana (ALATAMANA), a union of local and community organizations for natural resources management, to implement an ICCA-GSI project in the Manandriana district. The ALATAMANA is also a member of Tafo Mihaavo, the national ICCA network committed to the Fokonolona institutional system of governance and sustainable management of natural resources, while maintaining order in the villages and providing social and economic assistance.
Located in the rural communes of Ambohimahazo and Anjoman’Ankona, where it covers 1,197 hectares of forests, the project aims to adapt and reinforce indigenous conservation systems to the growing challenges in the area. Multi-stakeholder workshops, held at the beginning of the project, prompted government-conducted evaluation and studies at the local level. Ultimately, state actors transferred the natural resource management to the Indigenous and local communities through six contracts that are initially valid for three years with possibilities for extensions. The government and the communities jointly defined zoning areas, including agricultural areas, restoration areas and nurseries with reforestation crops, strict conservation areas, and traditional-use areas. Thereafter, building on the Malagasy ancestral and cultural values, 500 community members were trained in agroforestry and agro-ecology to regenerate the forest ecosystems and introduce alternative livelihood options.