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Groundbreaking integrated marine conservation and community health project to feature in BBC documentary

27 April 2012, London. A pioneering project that combines marine conservation and community health will feature in the latest episode of the BBC2 travel documentary series Indian Ocean, due to be broadcast on Sunday April 29 at 8pm.

 The project, described by Sir David Attenborough as "a model for everyone working to conserve the natural life-support systems of our troubled planet", helps coastal communities to protect scarce resources, whilst simultaneously providing them with the means to plan their families and thereby reduce unsustainable population growth.

The BBC series follows explorer and author Simon Reeve's mission to visit the world's most exotic tropical locations, including the marine-protected area on the south-west coast of Madagascar, set up by British charity Blue Ventures.

On a spearfishing trip with local fishermen, Reeve learns how heavily these communities rely on the ocean. Eating dinner with a fisherman's family, he hears that it is becoming increasing difficult to feed seven children because of dwindling fish stocks.

A member of the Blue Ventures team in Madagascar, Gildas Andriamalala, explains to Reeve that rapid population growth, caused largely by an unmet need for family planning services, drives unsustainable resource use, damaging the environment and deepening poverty.

Four years ago, when Blue Ventures' project was launched, many women were having seven children or more; parents often struggled to feed their families.

With support from across the community, the charity set up a network of clinics in the region, along with a community education programme, that responded to the unmet need for reproductive healthcare and education. As a result, thousands of local women are now empowered to choose the size and spacing of their family, ensuring that they can afford to feed them.

Data collected from the project over three years shows population growth has slowed by one-third in some areas, reducing pressure on coastal resources.

Expressing his support for the project, Sir David Attenborough said: "Population growth is clearly one of the main drivers of all our environmental problems.

"Good family planning support must therefore be an essential part of all long-term solutions."

Speaking about the upcoming broadcast, Blue Ventures' Medical Director and founder of their first clinic, Dr Vik Mohan, said: "We are delighted to have the opportunity to the showcase the strength of our integrated approach.

"By including these health services in the portfolio of projects that Blue Ventures manages, we are able to achieve our health and conservation objectives more effectively."

  • For more information or to arrange an interview with Dr Mohan please contact 07974 807195 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
  • More information about Blue Ventures' work on integrating community health projects with biodiversity conservation in Madagascar can be found by clicking here 

'Editors notes':

Blue Ventures is an award-winning marine conservation organisation, dedicated to working with local communities to conserve threatened marine environments.

Their acclaimed conservation programmes work with some of the world's poorest coastal people to develop conservation and poverty alleviation initiatives that protect biodiversity and coastal livelihoods. The results of this work help them to propose new ideas to benefit coastal communities everywhere.

In recent years, Blue Ventures has won international acclaim for innovative approaches to addressing the challenges faced by coastal communities. Recent accolades include the Buckminster Fuller Challenge, the United Nations' Equator Prize and IUCN's SEED Award – some of the most prestigious global awards for innovation in biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation.

Amongst other achievements, Blue Ventures has created the largest community-managed marine reserves in the Indian Ocean, and pioneered ambitious research programmes tackling critical issues facing marine biodiversity conservation and resource-dependent coastal communities.

Alongside work in fisheries management and protected area development, their programmes encompass marine and fisheries research, endangered species conservation, and environmental education and community capacity building.

Beyond more 'conventional' approaches to conservation, Blue Ventures also manage sustainable aquaculture initiatives, family planning and public health projects, and advocate at national and international levels for fisheries policy reform.