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Supporting mangrove forest management in Madagascar

MADAGASCAR — A Forest Service team visited Madagascar in March to initiate technical support in the areas of mangrove forest inventory, restoration, and management. Richard MacKenzie, aquatic ecologist from the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, and Julie Luetzelschwab, GIS coordinator from the Santa Fe National Forest, joined International Programs office staff for the two week visit that was funded by and in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development.

The team met with government, non-government and academic partners currently active in mangrove management activities in the country. Mangrove forests store significant amounts of carbon, most of it below ground, and countries need forest inventory methods that better quantify these significant carbon sinks in order to include them in their international reporting requirements for greenhouse gases. The team demonstrated methods for sampling mangroves soils for estimating their carbon content. The team also assessed current forest inventory methods as well as restoration efforts of various government and non-governmental partners to identify areas for further technical support. The team proposed potential methodological best practices for use by Government of Madagascar partners for upcoming inventories based on international best practices.

Madagascar is a richly biodiverse island nation where 89% of plants and 92% of mammals are endemic. The threats to Madagascar’s environment are growing, including deforestation, extractive industries, urbanization pressures, and increasingly severe and frequent tropical storms. The country’s mangrove forests, found predominantly along the western coast, play a significant roles in protecting coastal communities from storms, serving as vital fish spawning habitat and providing important timber and non-timber products for communities along the coast.

Forest Service support in Madagascar aims to improve community management and use of these unique forest systems while also conserving the country’s truly unique biodiversity.

Aquatic ecologist Richard MacKenzie works with Madagascar community and civil society partners to collect soil samples to assess carbon storage content of the country’s mangrove forests. Forest Service photo by Adam Welti.