What would you like to search for?

Does the legislation on mangroves take into account the realities?

The mangroves of Madagascar with an area of approximately 236,402 ha (WWF, 2019) are one of the most productive ecosystems of the big island.

Fisheries and forestry production from mangroves average $23,613 / ha / year and $38,115 / ha / year (Salem & Mercer, 2012). According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries in 2021, they generate a GNP of 24.8 billion ariary in one year if we speak only of income from crab fishing, which depends on this ecosystem. The governance of these resources is not yet effective despite the efforts made. Since 1995, and until today, there has been a significant loss of coverage: 74,050 ha in total for the whole country or 23.85% of the total coverage (WWF, 2019).

Previously, this ecosystem was not considered important, unlike other ecosystems such as terrestrial forests. It is only since the year 2000 that stakeholders have begun to take an interest in its management. Two main aspects are identified among the major factors of this loss despite the ambitious objectives defined for the sustainable management of this very productive ecosystem. 

In terms of natural resource management in general in Madagascar, the means available are not sufficient to guarantee it. The budget allocated by the State for environmental management activities in general is meager and does not allow either to cover the needs or to reach the set objectives. As a result, the State agents are unable to carry out their regalian role in the mangrove areas. For example, the administration in charge of forests or fishing, which is at the same time the administration in charge of mangroves, does not even have a pirogue or a boat to ensure its activities in mangroves, which consist in the application of laws. However, this role cannot be played by other actors, the managing communities for example, or the partners promoting the sustainable management of these resources. This is a first reason why infractions still exist. Apart from this lack of means, national policies for the sustainable management of mangroves are not clear. The mangrove ecosystem is specific: it is a habitat of aquatic species, deserving of protection; but it is also a supply area for local communities. Do the legislations in force take this into account? On the one hand, an interministerial decree (No. 32100-2014 of October 24, 2014) prohibits any form of mangrove wood cutting. Yet, on the other hand, local communities managing natural resources are authorized, through rights of use to exploit them, obviously in a sustainable manner (GELOSE n°96-025). Moreover, these communities depend more and more on mangroves. What to say? It is clear that the current legislations are not complementary... they are contradictory.

The limited access to resources is demotivating the communities because the benefits they should get from the management of these resources are limited. Moreover, the existing socio-economic opportunities cannot meet the needs of the communities. As a result, they resort to exploiting mangroves as a solution to meet the needs of their households through the production of charcoal in the mangroves, for example. In the case of Menabe in particular, raw materials for producing charcoal in the terrestrial part are scarce due to land clearing. This pushes the populations to move and get closer to the mangroves. In sum, the insufficient means of work and the limited power of communities managing natural resources are another reason that favors infractions.

If adequate measures adapted to the current context are not taken immediately, the degradation will accelerate, and all the goods and services provided by this rich ecosystem will diminish or even disappear.