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The difficulties and challenges of community patrollers in Madagascar

We celebrated the World Patroller's Day or "Polisinala" this Sunday 31 July 2022.

Let's pay tribute to all those who contribute in their daily life to preserve habitats, natural resources, and biodiversity for nature and future generations.
The forests of Madagascar are known for their unique diversity of fauna and flora. In January 2021, WWF published a scientific report, "Deforestation Fronts: Drivers and Responses in a Changing World." This report is the first comprehensive analysis linking the drivers of deforestation and the responses to it at the global level.
According to the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Madagascar has lost in the 90. 000 Ha of forests per year with a deforestation rate of 1.4% for the last 10 years and now covers an area of only 8,716,519ha (PERR-FH, 2015, MEDD, 2018). 
Community patrollers, who are the guardians of Madagascar's forests are mobilizing to safeguard them. They are called Polisinala, Polisindrano, patrollers, rangers, Local Forest Committee, Local Monitoring Committee, etc. depending on the context. These are brave men and women who travel miles to monitor our protected areas, areas that are difficult to access and increasingly remote.

The Polisinala, the guardians of our forests:

Due to the lack of foresters in Madagascar, the government has decided to transfer the management of natural resources to local grassroots communities or Vondron'Olona Ifotony (VOI). Madagascar has 7 million hectares of forest. The number of foresters in the Ministry is 350, meaning that one forester protects about 35,000 hectares of forest.
According to statistics on patrollers published by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MEDD), there are approximately 10 to 20 patrollers in each VOI, with a total of 15,000 patrollers in Madagascar. This is a small number compared to Madagascar's forest cover.
The VOIs manage, restore and protect the forests and natural resources in their areas, under the supervision of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development. The Polisinala is responsible for monitoring forests to prevent illegal exploitation of natural resources: they control the use of forest resources, monitor illegal use of forest products, and record species of fauna and flora for inventory and monitoring purposes.
There is also a structure at the Fokontany (village) level called "Voamieran'ny Ala" or VNA ("Forest Committee" in English), and a structure at the commune and Fokontany level called "Komity miady amin'ny doro tanety" or KMDT ("Bushfire Committee" in English)

Some success stories of our courageous Polisinala.

Protected areas of Ankodida and North Ifotaky, in the deep south of Madagascar:
the Miaro association set up in 2015 the Polisinala (forest rangers) to patrol the forest three times a month. Today, 35 Polisinala work in Ankodida and 53 in North Ifotaka. The efforts have paid off with a result of zero cases of clearing recorded between 2017 and 2020, compared to 200 cases in 2015.
Protected area of Amoron'i Onilahy
The area of forest cleared each year in Amoron'i Onilahy has decreased from 69.31 Ha in 2012 to 15.11 ha in 2017, according to data collected by WWF's Madagascar Aerial Forest Monitoring Program in December 2017
Ambaro Bay
In northern Madagascar, in the villages of Ambaro Bay the "polisinala" periodically in the mangrove forests to preserve this ecological habitat since 2015 with the support of WWF. The patrollers are equipped with binoculars, cell phones and GPS to geo-reference their route and possibly the places of violation. They sometimes use light boats to access remote areas in the mangroves.
The work of these patrollers demonstrates the strong commitment of communities to the sustainable management of forests, whether terrestrial or marine. Let's salute their dedication to nature and human welfare!