Madagascar’s Mangroves: Toward a National Governance and Sustainable Management Strategy for this Unique, Special, and Vulnerable Ecosystem

Speeches Shim

Sunday, July 26, 2020
Mangrove wood is an important resource for local building materials

World Mangrove Day is commemorated every year on July 26.  This celebration aims to raise awareness about the importance of mangrove ecosystems and to promote solutions for their conservation and sustainable use.  Madagascar is especially blessed with a wealth of mangroves.  2% of the world's mangroves are located here, accounting for 20% of African mangrove forests.

A Unique but Threatened Ecosystem

Our mangroves provide a habitat for an abundance of unique flora and fauna and a nursery area for many fish and crustacean species.  These forests are rich in biodiversity, provide natural protection for the coastline, and regulate the climate, by storing large amounts of carbon.  Mangroves also provide socio-economic opportunities that contribute to the well-being and food security of people living along the coast.

In 2018, Madagascar had 390,853 ha of mangroves.  They are mainly found in Diana, Sofia, Boeny, Melaky, Menabe, and Atsimo Andrefana regions.  Unfortunately, this ecosystem is undergoing severe degradation with serious ecological and socio-economic impacts, alarming rates of destruction due to deforestation, and conversion of the area into cropland.  These actions are transpiring despite existing prohibitions and laws.

It is more crucial than ever before to mobilize all stakeholders to ensure the responsible and sustainable management of this resource - using the mangrove restoration and reforestation models already in place, as well as encouraging good governance practices that involve the local communities in management and protection.

Committed to sustainable and integrated management

Since 2019, the mangrove initiative has seen an unprecedented mobilization of all stakeholders involved in the management of this ecosystem, led by the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development (MEDD) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MAEP), coordinated by the National Committee for Integrated Coastal Zone Management (CN-ICZM), and supported by the USAID Hay Tao program.

A national governance and integrated mangrove management workshop held from July 23-25, 2019 resulted in a joint statement signed by the two ministries, which served as a political commitment to address the governance and management challenges for this resource.  This statement prioritizes the development of mangrove governance tools, the coordination of interventions among stakeholders, and effective monitoring and evaluation.

The governance tools include a national mangrove management strategy, a revised text on mangrove management, promoting alternatives to the use of mangrove wood, and reforestation initiatives – which aligns with the Government of Madagascar’s stated goal to reforest no less than 40,000 ha per year. USAID Hay Tao will support the development of these tools.

The statement signed by the two ministries aligns with Madagascar's commitment at COP 23 on Climate in Bonn, Germany – to restore 4 million hectares of degraded forests and lands by 2030.  Mangrove restoration is one of the priority options for the restoration of Madagascar’s landscapes and forests.

Local communities are taking the initiative to reforest the mangroves
Local communities are taking the initiative to reforest the mangroves


This strong commitment offers hope to coastal communities who rely on mangroves.  According to Julien Noël Rakotoarisoa, the National Focal Point for mangrove management at the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, "This joint commitment is a starting point for the institutional recovery of mangrove governance.  It will continue with the adoption of management framework documents, as well as specific tasks for the various players involved in ecosystem management.  The local communities, particularly the fishermen, will have more coordinated and clearer management guidelines to ensure their activities are sustainable. "

The communities who use mangroves in their daily life are determined, says Nourchiad, President of the local community association in Antsotsomo, in Ambaro Bay, Diana Region, “We have suffered a loss of forests recently due to unlawful and uncontrolled logging.  But we are now proud to manage the mangroves ourselves.  We are ready to use them sustainably and protect them.”  Involving the local community facilitates the fight against deforestation.

Managing this ecosystem sustainably will provide a reliable source of income for the local communities. Restoring the mangroves and fighting against deforestation is strongly needed to return the title of "The Green Island" to Madagascar.