Securing rights for local communities at the Mahavavy Kinkony Wetland, Madagascar

Lake Kinkony, one of Madagascar’s largest lakes, is of vital importance for local communities like the village of Makary and holds globally important biodiversity (including the endangered Sakalava Rail in the reedbeds in this picture) © Paolo Volponi

The Mahavavy Kinkony Wetland IBA in Madagascar is one 356 ‘IBAs in Danger’ adjudged to be at particularly high risk of losing its biodiversity value, owing to intense threats and inadequate protection or management. Asity Madagascar (BirdLife in Madagascar) is helping local communities to acquire rights to control the management of natural resources in the hope that effective local stewardship will help safeguard the site. 

With secure rights and responsibilities over natural resources, local people can be effective stewards, managing biodiversity both for local economic benefits and to meet national or international conservation objectives. The Mahavavy-Kinkony Complex IBA, a 300,000-ha landscape including coastal and freshwater wetlands and forests (mangrove and dryland) in Madagascar, including Lake Kinkony Ramsar site and the Mahavavy River Delta, is important to local people for fishing, hunting and agriculture and is home to a large number of threatened wildlife species. However, lack of clear rights, access and locally agreed resource management rules meant that the wetland was threatened by over-exploitation and habitat loss.

National law in Madagascar has enabled local community associations to acquire rights to control the management of natural resources over agreed areas, ensuring continued benefits for the local people who depend on them. Helping communities to claim these rights and strengthening the community assoiations is one of the key conservation strategies of Asity Madagascar (BirdLife in Madagascar). The complex was given temporary protection by the Government of Madagascar in 2007, and the same management model tested, with people continuing to live in the area and to use its resources, over the following years. One of the successes of this temporary protection phase was the effective integration of local communities in the site’s management, through a umbrella body (or ‘platform’) of local associations (called Marambitsy Miahy ny Zavaboahary); this was formally appointed as co-manager together with Asity Madagascar. This proved effective and, following exhaustive further consultations and development of environmental and social safeguards, the site was given permanent protection under the same management arrangement in 2015.

At the same time, several other new protected areas were announced; these included the Mangoky–Ihotry Complex (another vast area of wetland, forest and coastal zone) in south-west Madagascar, and Tsitongambarika Forest in the south-east, also under a similar co-management arrangement involving Asity Madagascar and a community ‘platform’. This type of community-based approach is now accepted as, under most circumstances, the most cost-effective and equitable way to conserve biodiversity and share the benefs in Madagascar.

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Compiled: 2014    Last updated: 2015    Copyright: 2015   

Recommended Citation:
BirdLife International (2015) Securing rights for local communities at the Mahavavy Kinkony Wetland, Madagascar. Downloaded from on 05/12/2023

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