Staff Q&A with Zo Andriamahenina, Blue Forests Research Technician

In the latest instalment in our series of staff Q&As, we ask Zo Andriamahenina, Blue Forests Research Technician, some searching questions about science, conservation and superpowers…

What is your scientific background?

I studied Sociology at the University of Antananarivo, during which time I did some vulnerability assessments of farmers and agriculture in relation to climate change adaptation in southeast Madagascar. Now I specialise in carbon stock measurements of mangrove forests, as a research technician working on BV’s blue forests project.

What is the best/worst thing about being a conservation scientist?

We work throughout the west coast of Madagascar (Ambaro-Ambanja Bays, Mahajamba Bay, Tsiribihina-Manambolo Delta, Bay of Assassins in Velondriake, and Ambondrolava) so travelling in these regions allows me to explore much of the west coast of my country, helping me to understand the culture and exposing me to many beautiful landscapes.

Also, our work helps coastal communities to sustainably manage their local natural resources and the services provided by mangrove ecosystems. I’m aware of the importance of environmental conservation in order to mitigate climate change impacts, too.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really enjoy the technical part of my job, such as doing the carbon stock field measurements in the mangrove forest, noting any regeneration, measuring the stumps and helping our team to collect the soil samples.

I feel privileged to be involved in helping to improve and protect our country’s natural resources by working together with the coastal communities, empowering them to sustainably manage the numerous ecosystem services that mangrove forests provide.

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What is your favourite species and why?

My favourite species is the tall Avicennia marina (commonly known as the grey mangrove), because I feel confident walking on its roots, the tree measurements are very easy to do and there’s not too much mud!

What would your science superpower be?

My superpower would be to make mangrove deforestation disappear and make the deforested areas regenerate immediately. Because that can help local communities to mitigate climate change and to increase the marine resources to improve their livelihoods.

What is one of the strangest things that have happened to you while working on conservation?

This strangest thing happened during our courtesy visit at Ambolikapiky/Ambanja. It was during the rainy season, and our 4×4 became stuck in the mud. There were local community members just looking and laughing at us, as our car was totally stuck in the mud!