Transferring natural resource management to local communities
Before any celebration could take place, traditional rituals were duly performed. Both the former governmental forest manager and the newly empowered community based forest management association had to request blessings from the village elders and the ancestors. Several people thereafter held speeches after which contracts were actually signed.
“This is a big day for these communities”, says Appolinaire Razafimahatratra, head of project in Fandriana. “It took 2 two years of raising awareness in the villages, sustainable forest management training for resource users and paper work to get the official contract signed today. We are all proud to be here and confident that with this community based management model, the course for a more sustainable future is set.”
The Holistic Conservation Programme for Forests (HCPF) works on 5 different sites from Andapa in Madagascar’s north to Fort Dauphin in the southeast. The transfer of forest management to local communities is a key element in its conservation strategy. “If you explain to people what happens if the forest disappears, if you empower them by giving them training and a perspective on how things can be done differently, they do get on board” says Maminiaina Rasamoelina, the Tana-based HCPF coordinator.
The new board members of the community based forest management association will still need WWF’s support, at least over the two coming years. “It’s a ‘learning by doing’ approach” says Appolinaire Razafimahatratra, “and we reinforce their capacity to become sustainable resource users by working with them at eye-level. As they go we detect problems and help them overcome those all while encouraging them for their efforts.”