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Staff Q&A with Aude Carro, Blue Forests Coordinator (NW Madagascar)

In the nineteenth instalment in our series of Q&As with Blue Ventures staff, we ask Aude Carro, Blue Forests Coordinator (NW Madagascar), some searching questions about science, conservation and superpowers…

HalongWhat is your professional background?
As far as I can recall I’ve always been fascinated by biology. Being born and raised in Paris – not precisely a high biodiversity hotspot – my interest first fell on biochemistry and microbiological engineering. After five years of playing around with petri dishes and DNA sequencers, I realized I wasn’t a laboratory person and enrolled for a MSc in Agricultural Development. I started working on climate change and REDD+ in 2009 while I was participating in the peer-review of a new tool designed to assess agricultural, forestry and rural development projects. Since then, my interest in livelihood and natural resource management crosscutting issues only grew with time and experiences and here I am, four years later, working on a mangrove REDD+ feasibility assessment project.

Why do you do what you do?
You mean walking around in mangrove swamps, stumbling in the mud on their cutting roots while repressing clouds of hyperactive mosquitos? I applied for a coral reef research position, but since I’m an agronomist I got the mangrove position. Jokes apart, the myriad of good and services mangrove provide humans with is well worth the journey, and I see this everyday working with communities who source much of their food, timber, energy and income from these forests.

What is the best/worst thing about your job?
You can never get bored, but you can get tired at times.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
Something I’d like to do more often: turn off my computer, go walk around those mangroves and discuss with the locals. It’s only through those trips that you get a glimpse of how things are going and they always reveal extremely inspirational.

What is your favourite species and why?
I’m a big fan of the Japanese inflator filefish and more generally all those weird species that miraculously made it through the evolution process such as pipehorse, sea moth or microscopic chameleons.

What would your scientific superpower be?
Travelling through time – probably a useful project planning tool

Getting stuck in the mud is just part of everyday life for the Blue Forests team!

Getting stuck in the mud is just part of everyday life for the Blue Forests team!

What is one of the strangest things that has happened to you while working on conservation?
Being a westerner in a country like Madagascar, an endless list of small anecdotes come to my mind.. But for the purpose of this blog I’ll pick my most ridiculous story here. It was at the end of the rainy season here and we’re heading toward this village – which I will not mention the name of – that literally turns into a mud puddle at this time of the year. As usual the 4×4 gets stuck in the mud right at the entrance of the village. So as usual the whole team starts pushing the car over the 200 meters that separate us from the first bit of dry land, on the other side of the village. After a good half an hour, we manage to get the car out and here comes the miracle. While my Malagasy colleagues get out of it with perfectly immaculate cloth as usual, I get out of it with an integral (including face mask) coating of dirty rainy-season mud that takes me a public shower and 20 minutes to get rid of. No need to say the whole village was laughing out of loud, and I with them as soon as I got my face cleaned up. Here I take the opportunity to thank again my colleague Bienvenue who saved me by lending me a short and lambaone to wear during the workshop we held that day.