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Biodiversity work

Each forest fragment has its own unique creatures and features and each is vulnerable to degradation in different ways. The research data collected from the SEED Madagascar Conservation Programme is used to help sustainably manage and protect the species that exist here and the habitats which they rely so heavily upon. Our results also raise awareness of these fragile and threatened ecosystems both nationally and internationally. View our reports and publications »


The SEED Madagascar monitors the density and distribution of the four lemur species found in the Sainte Luce forest fragments and through collaborations with Oxford Brookes University, collects behavioural data on the red-collared brown lemur, Eulemur collaris, to research its ecology and contribute to its future management, and genetic and ecological data on a novel species of mouse lemur, Microcebus sp. nov.


The herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians) within the littoral forests of Sainte Luce is exceptional and very diverse. We currently conduct long term population monitoring through transect data collection, and have several side projects running which all aim to increase knowledge of the species that occur in these fragments and highlight those that are under particular threat. For example, Phelsuma antanosy, a species of day gecko that is Critically Endangered and regionally endemic, inhabits the forest fragments of Sainte Luce which are under threat from mining activity. The SEED Madagascar Conservation Programme researches the ecology of these species and others at risk in order to best understand how conservation practice should be managed in the future.

A uroplatus sikorae leaf-tailed gecko


One of our most important research activities is forest analysis, which began in August 2017.  Assessing the structure of the forest through quadrats is being utilised to create baseline data for each fragment and inform us of logging intensity.  The fragments will be revisited every year in order to monitor the structure and identify any issues with logging and deforestation.

The SEED Madagascar Conservation Programme also currently monitors  two regionally endemic and endangered palm species – Dypsis saintelucei and Beccariophoenix madagascariensis – which have particularly low numbers due to habitat loss and their use in the construction of lobster traps.

Community Conservation

The community rely heavily on forest resources and SEED Madagascar works closely alongside people in Sainte Luce to educate and support them to implement sustainable management solutions to ensure the future of their forest fragments. Current threats such as mining activity and slash and burn agriculture highlight the urgency to work alongside the community to promote and facilitate sustainable management of these vital resources.

Environmental Education

The SEED Madagascar Conservation Programme provides long-term environmental education for the local school, with volunteers playing an integral role in the preparation and presentation of environmental education lessons with topics such as local habitat types, endemicity and adaptation.

World Environment Day

SEED Madagascar facilitates an annual community festival to celebrate the environmental related achievements of the community. This is an opportunity for the key members of the community and SEED Madagascar staff and volunteers to 'spread the word' and educate the rest of the community in how they can benefit the environment and manage their precious resources sustainably.

Typical working day

The SEED Madagascar Conservation Programme has a very varied daily schedule depending on study activity and location, but a typical day in the field starts with breakfast at 7am. This is followed by a 3-4 hour expedition in the forest conducting research until just before midday, when you will return for lunch. A typical activity is walking a lemur transect through a fragment of littoral forest - once spotted, with the help of the local guides, you will be recording critical data including the number and sex of lemurs, or observing their behaviour. Another day, you could find yourself assessing reptile abundance through herpetological transects.

A volunteer plays guitar with local children

We take a two-hour break during the heat of the day to eat lunch, nap, relax or sunbathe, as well as time to evaluate the morning's progress or have a Malagasy language lesson. The afternoon work session then starts around 2pm. Work continues until about 5pm, but will vary depending on the time of year. Then it is back to camp for a bucket shower!

Evenings are very sociable affairs and generally volunteers discuss their days amongst each other whilst having supper together at around 6pm, and preparing for the next day, sometimes with talks on interesting topics from the Research Assistants or visiting staff members. On some evenings you will find yourself doing nocturnal research: walking through the littoral forests searching for nocturnal species of lemurs or reptiles and amphibians typically from 7pm to 11pm.

Work with the community will involve helping with the environmental education classes or Conservation Club with the children on a Saturday morning. These aspects are both fun and rewarding.

Sample 2-week itinerary

Day Morning Afternoon Evening
1 Arrival, setting up camp in town, banking and emailing Introductory drinks  
2 Travel from Fort Dauphin to Sainte Luce and set up camp Walk the three hamlets to the beach Nocturnal walk
3 Forest analysis Reptile transect Nocturnal lemur transect
4 Lobster survey Dragonfly ecology Nocturnal herp transect
5 Tree nursery work and lesson preparation Environmental education  
6 Census of flying fox roost   Nocturnal lemur transect
7 Herpetology transect Forest analysis Mouse lemur ecology
8 Conservation Club Time off Time off
9 Time off - sunrise at the beach Time off - Beach Time off
10 Herp transect Dragonfly ecology Nocturnal herp search
11 Tree nursery work Malagasy lesson and Conservation Club Nocturnal lemur transect
12 Forest analysis Environmental education Bush party!
13 Travel from Sainte Luce back to Fort Dauphin    
14 Trip to Nahampoana Lemur Reserve/beach in Fort Dauphin    

Who can volunteer?

SEED Madagascar accepts volunteers from all over the world and groups always consist of a diverse mix of ages, and nationalities from all different walks of life. Our projects are open to anyone over the age of 18.