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Rainforest conservation in Madagascar gets $1.4 million boost

Madagascar’s pioneering project since 2007 to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation receives $1.4 million from the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund to continue protecting the country’s precious rainforests.

Ten years ago, one of the largest remaining blocks of rainforest in Madagascar was under threat. The Ankeniheny-Zahamena Corridor (CAZ), a 375,000-ha area to the east of the country, was at risk of being destroyed by slash-and-burn agricultural practices and mining. These activities threatened CAZ’s primary forests, the more than 2,000 plant, mammal, amphibian and bird species in the area, as well as the water sources and erosion control CAZ’s forests provide the rest of the country.

This threat motivated the Government of Madagascar in 2007 to create what has become one of the country’s largest protected area, and one of the first initiatives in Africa aimed at reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). These emission reductions are being accomplished, in large measure, by helping communities transition into new livelihoods, such as fish farming and rice cultivation, that take pressure off the forests.

Since 2008, the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund has been working with the Malagasy government and Conservation International to help create incentives for communities in CAZ to shift away from slash-and-burn practices and adopt forest and climate-smart livelihoods. Over the years, the BioCarbon Fund has helped Madagascar create the country’s first REDD+ methodology, and lay the foundation for a broader national REDD+ mechanism. The BioCarbon fund also committed to pay $1.4 million to the country for verified carbon emission reductions achieved through efforts to preserve CAZ’s rainforests.

BioCarbon Fund support reaches new milestone

The Government of Madagascar has worked with the BioCarbon Fund and a wide range of stakeholders to trailblaze a benefit-sharing plan for this $1.4 million in funding. Just last month, the final details of the plan were finalized, and the BioCarbon Fund’s financial support has now been transferred to the country.

“Transferring payment is a huge step for this pioneering project, the REDD+ methodologies and benefit-sharing arrangements that Madagascar has finalized provide invaluable experience for the national REDD+ process, and demonstrate the commitment of the government,” says Erik Reed, Environment Specialist, World Bank.

In CAZ’s benefit-sharing plan, communities have identified sustainable livelihood activities, including improved irrigated rice cultivation and bean production, that will result in reduced carbon emissions. Once these emission reductions are certified by the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) program (the project has already generated about 3 million VCS-verified emission reduction credits), the Government of Madagascar will distribute funding from the BioCarbon Fund to CAZ communities, as well as use a portion to monitor and supervise project activities.

The BioCarbon Fund’s support in CAZ is helping to ensure this corridor continues to protect the remaining native forests between Madagascar’s Zahamena National Park and the forests collectively known as “Ankeniheny” in central eastern Madagascar. In addition to protecting forest and carbon stocks, CAZ is also protecting one of the planet’s most important sites for biodiversity conservation. CAZ’s protected biological corridor links three existing protected areas: Zahamena National Park, the Manongarivo Special Reserve and the Mantadia National Park. These parks are at the core of the remaining fragments of the eastern Malagasy rainforest, and are extremely rich in biodiversity.

Photo credit: Rhett Butler