We're still in it to win it for the Global Giving photo contest 2017! If you've already been awesome and voted - did you check for and click the link in the confirmation email? If not your vote isn't yet registered and every single one counts! New voters, all you need to do is:
1. Click the photo below and pop in your email address!
2. Check your email and click the confirmation link
If we make it to first place, we stand to win $1000 for some vital lemur research and conservation! Thank you to everyone who has voted, shared and liked so far! The contest will close at 5pm UK time on Friday, so please keep spreading the word.
Gemma, who is Head of Biology at Wallington County Grammar School in South London, volunteered with our Conservation Programme in October last year during her sabbatical.
She was so inspired by the work being done in Sainte Luce that she organised for her school to fundraise for us! Thanks to the staff and students, they raised an impressive amount for our ongoing research and conservation projects. Gemma had this to say about her time with us:
"Stunning scenery, unbelievable wildlife encounters, passionate scientists, enthusiastic guides, brilliant kids, awesome volunteers, rice and beans, lots of laughter, some rainy days, and lots of games of bananagrams... volunteering with SEED Madagascar's Conservation Programme was one of the best things I have ever done!"
Thanks Gemma for the time you spent with us, and for spreading awareness and enthusiasm for conservation within Madagascar!
Can we have 30 seconds of your time?
Last year we took a truck filled with kids from our conservation club in rural Sainte Luce to a lemur reserve to show them some of the incredible wildlife found in Madagascar's forests. One of our photos from the trip has made it through to the finals of GlobalGiving's 2017 photo contest, and the charity with the most votes wins $1000 to support their work!
Voting takes just 30 seconds and all you need is an email address. Please share this far and wide with your friends and family - in a region where people earn on average just 50p per day, $1000 would make an incredible difference.
Very much a city girl at heart, the idea of travelling to the bush to collect data for Project Fatsaka was an exciting yet daunting prospect for one of our project development interns, Laura. Now back in our Fort Dauphin office, Laura recounts the adventures of her first ever camping experience, as well as of the team’s success engaging with target communities prior to the launch of project activities next month.
“Switching the home comforts of Fort Dauphin with camping in some of the most isolated communities in the Anosy region was without a doubt one of the most defining experiences of my time at SEED so far. Whilst I’ve proudly returned with the newfound skill of being able to put up a tent (an achievement in itself for a girl born and bred in London!), the trip has just as importantly provided me with a stronger understanding of the challenges that rural communities face in securing access to improved water sources. After spending 8 days engaging with households, health workers, schools and village chiefs, the Fatsaka team are now looking forward to reviewing the data so that project activities can be adapted to the different needs and concerns of our 15 target communities.”
"Extinction is happening all the time here. It is very scary."
This sobering The Guardian article on the state of plant conservation in Madagascar is well worth a read. Over 80% of the island's plant species can't be found anywhere else in the world, yet more than half currently face extinction. With climate change taking its toll on the south, people are forced to move north to survive, and changing land use opens up more areas to habitat degradation and loss each and every day. We're working with communities to protect as much as possible, by encouraging community-led restricted areas for logging and promoting alternative livelihoods to reduce pressure on forests.
Our Marine Research Coordinator for Project Oratsimba, Steve, has had an exciting week with the publication of a paper in PLOS.org One!
The paper discusses a variety of issues that affect the impact of community management, including how temporarily closing off a productive area of the fishery has impacts beyond simply affecting the catch size, including improving the value chain and catalysing more communities' interest in fishery management!
Steve and the team's learnings will enforce all future fisheries projects here at SEED, including expansion to Elodrato and Itapera due to the successes of Oratsimba! Many thanks to FAO-SmartFish and the many many others who supported Steve and the team throughout this important evaluation.
For the next month the Stitch Sainte Luce team will begin a series of training workshops with the embroiderers, thanks to a generous grant from the International Monetary Fund. These workshops mark the start of the fourth and final phase of the project and will deliver training to the women in key business skills such as data entry, photography, English and business management!
The aim of Phase 4 is to work towards making the cooperative fully independent and profitable, by building the marketing skills of the embroiderers while expanding to new tourist and domestic markets across Madagascar. By the end of 2019, it's envisioned that the cooperative will be managed and run by the women of Sainte Luce with the business positioned to continue for years to come, without donor funds or involvement from SEED staff!
To find out more about Stitch and its progress so far, visit Stitch's website at http://stitchsainteluce.org or if you'd like to purchase some of their stunning one of a kind embroidery check out http://etsy.com/shop/StitchSainteLuce
We're hiring! Are you a keen development professional looking to gain management experience? You might be the perfect fit for our Head of Project Development! Want to jumpstart your career but need experience in developing projects from the ground up? Why not apply to be a Project Development Officer? Passionate about protecting the environment and don't mind showering with a bucket? How about joining us in sunny Sainte Luce as a Conservation Research Assistant!
There's all that and more on our website: http://madagascar.co.uk/jobs
Thanks to everyone who submitted their favourite Madagascar snapshots last week! As promised, here are some of our favs from Facebook and our Twitter (follow us over on @SEEDMadagascar if you haven't already!) From the lovely people to the amazing wildlife, we hope you enjoy these pictures of life in Anosy. Thanks to Kate, Steve and Katie for sharing!
Alongside the vital research necessary for the conservation of the Sainte Luce littoral forest, our Conservation Programme also leads practical conservation activities in the area. A potential future project focuses on reforestation, which will link together isolated forest fragments that were once complete!
We've identified four areas to reforest, found between the S8 north forest fragment and the S8 remnants on the map below. By being clever with the selection of areas to reforest, the amount of habitat available for animals like lemurs can be greatly increased by providing corridors for them to travel through! Accessibility to other isolated fragments is important for species conservation as it decreases the likelihood of inbreeding, keeping populations healthy.
It is predicted that by the end of the project, available habitat will be increased by 20%, compared to a rough increase of only 5% if the areas planted are not strategically selected.
In April, Ali had the exciting chance to attend a conference held by FAO-SmartFish, Project Oratsimba’s funder. The Driving African Fisheries to Sustained Growth conference brought together 80 experts, consultants, NGO workers, private sector and government actors who’d worked under the programme to Nairobi, to share lessons learned, create policy guidance for South and East African leaders, and ensure that all the programme's work of the last five years would be incorporated into future fisheries work in the region. We'll let Ali take it away and tell you about her week on the mainland!
We're excited to say we're preparing for the exciting return of one of our core conservation researchers! Sam, our primary investigator for Project Microcebus will be joining the team in the field again in early June 2017!
Project Microcebus will support research into the mouse lemurs of the Sainte Luce littoral forest. With the project scheduled to start in July 2017, there is lots of prep underway to ensure everything is in place for a timely start to research. The team is extremely excited to welcome him back to Sainte Luce, and to continue the important research to improve the conservation status of these tiny but threatened creatures!
This week Project Safidy, our sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) project, has welcomed the 32 members of its anti-AIDS club to the screening of a film that addresses the issue of sexual consent.
The movie, produced in Madagascar, features the dilemmas and situations faced by two sisters regarding consent, and follows them on their diverging life paths. The anti-AIDS club members were joined at the viewing by other sexual health youth groups from around town, giving them the perfect forum to discuss their views of a sensitive subject, but also share healthy attitudes, safe practices, and what they've learnt in their individual SRHR groups over the course of the school year.
Such events help not only to broaden the knowledge of the young adult club members, but also to strengthen the links between the anti-AIDS Club and the different SRHR actors in Fort Dauphin. We would like to thank the Mercury Phoenix Trust for their kind support of Project Safidy.
By Allison Burtenshaw-deVries
In April, Ali, our Senior Project Development Officer had the exciting chance to attend a conference held by FAO-SmartFish, Project Oratsimba’s funder. The Driving African Fisheries to Sustained Growth conference brought together 80 experts, consultants, NGO workers, private sector and government actors who’d worked under the programme to Nairobi, to share lessons learned, create policy guidance for South and East African leaders, and ensure that all the programme's work of the last five years would be incorporated into future fisheries work in the region. We'll let Ali take it away and tell you about her week on the mainland!
My week in Kenya was an exciting opportunity to spend time chatting and networking with a room filled with fellow fisheries enthusiasts, and as I'd never been to sub-Saharan Africa before, this island dweller was excited to explore some new territory!
I arrived in Nairobi on a peaceful Sunday, and after a long nap from the overnight flight from Antananarivo I spent the afternoon on the hotel's rooftop with a stunning view of the city, equally impressive in its number of skyscrapers and plentiful urban forests. The lovely view was accompanied by some background policy reading provided by the SmartFish team, covering some of the conference’s core themes.
The first day and a half of the conference was focused on summarizing the work of SmartFish, Africa’s largest fisheries programme, which works in 20 countries throughout the Eastern and Southern Africa region. The first day and a half included a review of the three core topics that the conference was keen to examine in more depth: fisheries management; monitoring control and surveillance to prevent illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing; and intra-regional fish trade and food security. The first day also included a review of the pilot projects supported under SmartFish, including the spiny lobster project that SEED implemented in Sainte Luce! One of my favourite presentations was Food Security by the representative for the FAO, who was visiting from Rome. He talked about the high level of micronutrients available in fish, including the heads and tails which often go uneaten. In the Anosy region, where 58% of children suffer from under the age of five suffer from malnutrition or stunted growth, fish plays an invaluable role in food security, so this is an exciting idea for a future behavioural change project!
The next two days were spent in our assigned working groups, one on each of the three core topics. Each working group had a mandate to update draft policy recommendation papers in line with their own experiences and knowledge. I was assigned to the Fishery Management working group, and due to my experience with our local management project I was able to contribute on the challenges and benefits of the concept of co-management, where the government, private sector and fishing communities work together to manage fishery resources, rather than the onus being exclusively on government and law enforcement. These chats were technical and sector specific, so I'll spare the details here, but it’s always inspirational to be in a room full of people passionate about improving sustainability! It was also interesting to see the variation in fishery management between such a wide number of countries, many of which are more developed than Madagascar.
The evenings in Kenya were lovely and warm, and fish could be found both in the dinner menus and dinner conversations alike. Whilst unfortunately conferences like this necessitate spending most of your time in a boardroom, I did have a few chances to scope out Nairobi. We were also quite lucky that the last day of the conference happened to coincide with the host hotel's first anniversary, which meant a cocktail party and rooftop fireworks to conclude a spectacular week! I was also quite fortunate to squeeze in a tiny bit of town sightseeing, and a brief visit to the National Museum before heading off to the airport. From Keyan art and treasures, to local wildlife, venomous snakes and huge tortoises, it was a lovely afternoon, and a great end to a great week.
Happy Global Bike to Work Day! What does your cycle commute look like?
Our Beekeeping team have a fairly unconventional ride to work; heading through mountains to reach isolated villages, including some that can't be reached by 4x4! This committed crew of cyclists may get a bit sweaty, but arriving on two wheels helps keep transport costs down, our carbon footprint small, and also increases our impact.
Last year cyclists from 180 countries participated in Global Bike to Work Day, and logged more than 1.3 million commuter kilometres on Strava's cycling app! It's good for both your health and the environment - so get moving today, and we'll see you on the streets or in the hills!
What a find for our conservation team! This slippery snake is a Pseudoxyrhophus microps, which is rarely sighted because of its secretive habits. Since so few have been seen we think this is a great candidate for a "voucher specimen" – that means it'd be kept on record and used as the main reference for the species!
According to the IUCN Red List of threatened species, "due to human pressure on humid forest throughout its range and this snake's apparent scarcity in disturbed habitats, the population is presumed to be declining. Most of this species' range encompasses areas where the only remaining forest exists as small fragments". This is true of the Sainte Luce littoral forest where our conservation team is based, and which has sadly been split over time into seventeen separate fragments.
Are you a returned Conservation, Pioneer or Construction volunteer? Maybe you were with us for longer as an English Teacher, or even as staff member? We'd love to see some of your most beautiful, emotive or striking photographs of your time with us. Whether it's a stunning vista of Fort Dauphin, an interesting creature from your research in Sainte Luce, or an action shot of your time with us building a school, comment your favourite snapshot below. We'll choose our pick of your pictures and feature them on this page next Tuesday!
Madagascar's best known for its unique wildlife, but that's not all the big island has to offer! In Fort Dauphin we're lucky enough to have three beautiful beaches with some of the world's best waves. Check out this National Geographic article about some of Madagascar's top surfing spots!
Are you at a loose end this summer? Then why not join us on our Conservation Programme, and take your summer holiday to the next level! Here's a little look at life in Sainte Luce, the people you'll meet and the work that we carry out there.
To find out more and apply online, check out our website! http://madagascar.co.uk/conservation
Did you know that almost half of Madagascar’s population has no access to clean drinking water?
Project Fatsaka ("water source" in Malagasy) was developed to equip rural communities with the skills and knowledge to maintain their wells. Having worked successfully in 13 communities from 2015-2016, the next phase of Fatsaka will work alongside 15 new communities to establish well management committees, provide training in repairs, and improve understanding of the links between clean water and good health.
This week, the Fatsaka team have been hard at work preparing for their 9-day trip to rural Mahatalky to collect their first round of data. They're going to examine the state of community wells, test water quality and meet with households to discuss how and where they collect their water. We wish them all the best of luck in the field and look forward to seeing Project Fatsaka progress over the next 18 months!