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Africa

Forests, wetlands and people: celebrating 20 years of Malagasy success

By Rosa Gleave, 3 Nov 2016

BirdLife Partner Asity Madagascar today celebrates its 20th anniversary, a milestone that marks years of conservation success for birds, forests and wetlands.

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Named after one of the island-continent’s most fascinating endemic bird families, Asity’s founding members met at a BirdLife workshop in the 1990s.

Asity was created at a time when much of the conservation work in Madagascar was controlled by expatriates and international conservation NGOs.

"The founders of Asity wanted a Malagasy way of doing things. Their vision and dedication to create a national conservation organisation for Madagascar is at the heart of BirdLife’s principles and structure, " said Roger Safford, Senior Programme Manager who has been working with Asity for more than 15 years.

Dedication and hard graft have produced tangible results. Asity Madagascar secured full protection for three important sites: the Mahavavy-Kinkony Wetland Complex, Mangoky-Ihotry Wetland Complex and Tsitongambarika Forest. Representing 800,000 ha of Madagasy habitat, these are co-managed in partnership with local communities and supporting their livelihoods.

Securing the future of the Tsitongambarika Forest has been in progress since 2005 as part of BirdLife’s global Forests of Hope programme. Overlapping with Tsitongambarika IBA, the area hosts threatened bird species such as the Scaly Ground-roller Brachypteracias squamiger, Madagascar Red Owl Tyto soumagnei and Red-tailed Newtonia Newtonia fanovanae.

Both Madagascar Sacred Ibis Threskiornis bernieri and Sakalava Rail Zapornia olivieri depend on the now-protected wetland sites, which may be the most important in the world for these species.

Significant challenges have hampered Asity’s progress: the development of the Protected Areas programme was frozen for 5 years until 2014 by political instability.

Despite these setbacks, it is now a highly respected national NGO working alongside local and national bodies, raising its own funds from a range of government agencies, foundations, trusts, BirdLife Partners, other NGOs, corporations (including through the BirdLife-Rio Tinto partnership programme) and individual donations.

Asity Madagascar is strong in own right, but also forms more than the sum of its parts when strengthening the BirdLife family.

With congratulations flooding in from across the BirdLife Partnership, we look forward to another 20 years working for forests, wetlands and people across Madagascar.

More on the conservation work and the donors helping to make it happen.