By Kame Westerman, Velondriake MPA Project Coordinator, Andavadoaka, Madagascar. The success of Blue Ventures and Velondriake in southwest Madagascar has garnered growing interest from other conservation organizations wanting to learn about community conservation in this context. Recently, we had two visitors from the Comoros – the islands lying between Madagascar and mainland Africa – who work with the Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation. While the BCSF program is focused on the promotion of sustainable agriculture – important for soil fertility, ensuring water flow, and forest preservation – many of the political and social challenges are similar to those Blue Ventures has experienced in Madagascar.
Discussions between the visitors and Blue Ventures staff included promotion of alternative livelihoods, introducing family planning services, and community outreach and capacity building. Conservation practitioners benefit greatly from sharing experiences; these exchanges are valuable not only for visitors, but for Blue Ventures as well.