£97,319,821 invested in 835 projects in 157 countries since 1992

The Darwin Initiative

Sustainable mangrove economics in Madagascar

Project information: Leveraging markets to conserve mangrove biodiversity and alleviate poverty in Madagascar

Madagascar's mangrove forests are extremely valuable ecosystems, not only for the exceptional biodiversity that they support, but also for the host of ecosystem services and goods, critical to the well-being of coastal people, that they provide. Over half of Madagascar's population lives on the coast and mangroves play an important role in the well-being of many of these people, be they urban or rural.

Yet, for the very reason that they provide so many valuable products, these mangroves are being deforested and degraded.

In Madagascar, forests provide 100% of domestic energy needs in rural areas and over 70% of the total energy consumption of the country. 93% of logging is for firewood, charcoal or poles for local markets. Market demand for forest products cannot be met from forest plantations. With the Malagasy population projected to double by 2050, both rural and urban people will continue to meet its needs by exploiting natural forests.

But if this market demand could be met from sustainable sources, it could provide new income to and sustainable financing for forest conservation.

Mangrove timber is prized for its strength and durability; the wood has high energy content and is sought after for making charcoal. Tropical mangroves are amongst the most productive of all forest ecosystems and can sustain harvesting if properly managed. Part of the demand for timber and charcoal could be met through the sustainable management of mangroves.

Furthermore there is now international recognition of the exceptional capacity of mangrove forests to sequester CO2, as well as the key role that they will play in climate change adaptation.

Of all the biological carbon in the world, called green carbon, more than half is captured by marine living organisms - blue carbon. Mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses form much of these blue carbon sinks, storing a comparable amount of carbon per year to that of all other plant biomass on land. Blue carbon habitats play a critical role in mitigating climate change, as in addition to locking up tremendous amounts of carbon, they provide a host of other ecosystem goods and services vital to the wellbeing of coastal communities throughout the tropics.

There is a clear opportunity to gain financing for mangrove reforestation and sustainable forestry management from carbon markets (or from eventual REDD+ donor funds).

If these markets could be supplied from sustainably-managed mangrove forests, they will bring coastal communities new incomes, as well as sustainable financing for mangrove conservation.

Thanks to the Darwin Initiative's support, UK-based marine conservation NGO Blue Ventures is now working with the coastal people of Madagascar to develop a model that will make this reality.

The aim of the project is to enable communities who are customary owners of mangroves to supply these markets using mangrove reforestation/afforestation and sustainable forest management. The sale of carbon credits, charcoal and timber will provide substantial income to local people, and enable them to conserve primary mangrove habitats.

Local participants will themselves sell mangrove timber and charcoal directly to buyers. While most of the carbon revenues will be paid directly to community participants, the project will retain a small part to cover long-term management expenses.

Lalao Aigrette, BV's mangrove PES specialist, sums up the project:

"Thanks to the Darwin Initiative's support we will help will to eradicate deep poverty in these communities by diversifying their cash income away from just unsustainable mangrove deforestation. Crucially we will also help them to gain legal land and user rights to their mangroves. Combined, these actions will help to conserve the exceptional biodiversity of Madagascar's mangroves."

Page last modified: Friday, 12 October 2012

Darwin 2012 - 20 years of the Darwin Initiative

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