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Update from the field: Rainforest Trust

Rainforest Trust is one of the three programs supported in the 2018-2019 program year of Zoo Atlanta’s Quarters for Conservation initiative. As the Quarters for Conservation Champion for Rainforest Trust, I’m glad to get to share an update from Beth Bush, Director of Corporate and Foundation Giving at Rainforest Trust.

From Beth:
The fossa are amazing creatures, but there is so much more to this venture! At the beginning of this project, the community surrounding the Lost Forest of Madagascar was not particularly supportive. But through communication, education and collaboration, the community now understands the importance of safeguarding this land. They have not only embraced Rainforest Trust’s efforts; they are standing alongside the organization as they work to protect the land and endangered species like the fossa.

A team member from Rainforest Trust and representatives from the local partner and local authorities discussed zoning of the proposed protected area of Ivohibory – the Lost Forest. It was quite interesting to hear people telling their perspective of the forest and supporting the extension of the proposed protected area. They are aware of the need to protect this forest massif because according to them, it is a sacred place and has a significant cultural value. The voice of the local people also highlighted their wish to restore areas surrounding the initial proposition. It was clear that the people living in the area clearly felt the need to protect all mountains and forested areas connected with Ivohibory. The local community also advocated for the project because it would protect soil and reduce the risk of erosion (and subsequent flooding of their crops, endangering their livelihood) and ensure the long-term availability of water. Locals also observed the presence of rare species in areas of the forest and wanted those species protected. 

Rainforest Trust, with their local partner, also created a plan for long-term engagement and collaboration with local communities. The goal is to ensure healthy people and a health environment. Rainforest Trust has also begun collaborating with the education sector, finding their main needs. So, 17 primary schools with 841 kids surrounded the forest benefit school kits.  All villagers will shortly start to develop a development plan of each village which would link closely with the conservation strategies.

In addition, the local communities have designated local committee management to work closely with us and to ensure the patrols of the forest with our permanent guardians. A complementary biodiversity survey is planned shortly.

Rainforest Trust is so encouraged by the acceptance and support this project is receiving.  The local communities have embraced the Ivohibory area as a natural treasure within the Ihorombe region. Everyone is working together with the common goal of saving the Lost Forest and protecting the fossa!
(Photo courtesy of Laila Juliana)
Kelly D.
Keeper I, Mammals

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl