The marine conservation NGO Blue Ventures has been working with local communities in the region of Andavadoaka, southwest Madagascar, since 2003. Its aim is to protect the biological diversity, sustainability and productivity of the region’s coral reefs and related habitats, while improving the quality of life of the local coastal communities that depends almost entirely on local marine and coastal resources for subsistence
and income. Following the results of a pilot marine no take zone launched three years ago adjacent to the remote fishing village of Andavadoaka, Blue Ventures and partner organisations, the University of Toliara’s Institut Halieutique et des Sciences Marines (IHSM) and WCS-Madagascar, are currently working with 23 neighbouring villages towards the development of a network of community-run marine, coastal and terrestrial protected areas in the Andavadoaka region.
The network, named the Velondriake Community Managed Protected Area (VCMPA), spans over 700-square kilometres, incorporating coral reefs, lagoons, mangroves, beaches, sea grass beds and baobab forest, and is managed by a series of regional committees and subcommittees comprised of representatives of all villages within the protected area. The VCMPA is an wholly locally-managed and locally-driven initiative,
with access to and resource use rights within the protected area governed by local community laws known as Dina. A number of special use zones have been designated within the VCMPA envelope, including temporary and permanent marine and terrestrial no take zones (NTZs).
Supplementing the benefits of the protected areas, project leaders are working with local communities to develop and launch sustainable livelihoods – including eco-tourism and mariculture businesses – that are aimed at providing future financial alternatives to
overexploitation of natural resources. Specially managed zones for pilot ecotourism and mariculture developments are contained within the VCMPA.