The forests throughout Madagascar, are under increasing human and natural threats. Within the Ranomafana National Park, where CVB's main campus is based, the remaining forest still serves as home for several endangered species such as lemurs, but is becoming fragmented due to human pressure. Anthropogenically transformed land in the peripheral zone is encroaching on intact habitat as traditional land use practices (slash and burn agricultural techniques or tavy) deplete soil nutrients rapidly. In addition to the direct human pressure, events such as global climate change have already begun to cause drastic changes in the ecosystems, causing historically unprecedented swings in dry and rainy season timings, water levels, as well as migrations of biodiversity out of traditional home ranges. To mitigate these effects, CVB has been conducting regular reforestation activities for twelve years aimed at curbing the destruction.
These degraded forests need to be restored to ensure the long-term conservation of Madagascar's biodiversity, and the long term health of Madagascar's people. While other programs opt for invasive reforestation initiatives, CVB targets native trees as a way to maintain a functioning and viable ecosystem that compliments human activity. All trees used are endemic to the region, and all seeds sourced local to maintain Ranomafana's unique genetic diversity. CVB maintains twelve nursery spread around the region, each with a full time staff and multiple volunteers helping to care for the seedling trees.
CVB started its reforestation program in the schools of Ranomafana through the Child and Tree fund and has since been expanding its initiative to more remote villages within the parks periphery. In 2020, our reforestation program targets 23 villages and 15 clubs through the 19 schools. Each of these target clubs hosts a tree nursery within the school grounds, that actively produces viable stock for the community. Supervised by a nursery specialist assisted by the students as part of CVB's conservation education program activities these in village nursery have been growing the future for the local areas while teaching valuable lessons in reforestation and conservation.
A Magnet for Reforestation and Ecosystem Restoration
CVB is more than a research station, it is a hub of scientific innovation. As a hub we actively encourage new ideas and methods that benefit tropical ecosystems restoration. Our active partners and collaborative institutions help make CVB what it is today, and we are ever thankful for their commitment to ecosystem restoration.
- SPICES CVB and Catholic Relief Service have combined expertise to lay the groundwork for our vision of rejoining the eastern escarpment forests of Ranomafana National Park with the lowland forest fragments extending to the Indian Ocean. We will transform degraded environments with low agricultural output, persistent erosion, and associated environmental problems into dynamic ecosystems that support native flora and fauna, improve livelihoods by harnessing alternative crops, and provide a myriad of ecosystem services for local communities. Placing high value crops such as vanilla, and forest pepper on the endemic young trees for high value harvests by communities is combined with upgraded storage, transportation and marketing of these crops.Thus, CRS and CVB intend to re-green Madagascar by involving local communities and strengthening local livelihoods.
- ECOSIA A European Union Search Engine Company has partnered with CVB to both plant trees and calculate carbon inputs. By monitoring carefully the ten species of endemic trees chosen for planting, we will be able to track the survival of each tree over a ten year period. Trees prevent erosion, silting, high air temperatures and an ecosystem for biodiversity. Malaria goes down where there are big trees, and disease rates are lower. This reforestation using science makes planting trees a dynamic process of learning and changing, depending on the data generated.
- TRACKING TREES By using digital technology on trees recently planted, combined with citizen science principles, Rochester Institute of Technology and Seneca Park Zoo combine forces with CVB to produce a new approach to reforestation. On the internet, each citizen can track trees they purchased. This digital monitoring will inspire individuals to purchase more trees and eventually visit them in Madagascar.