A bold “zero deforestation” commitment for Ankarafantsika National Park

Conservation Allies President, Dr. Paul Salaman, and Madagascar Conservation Officer, Solofo Rakotoarisoa, have just returned from a crucial meeting at Ankarafantsika National Park with our local partners (Fosa Association, Planet Madagascar, and Madagascar National Parks) together with local and European donors (FAPBM, KfW and Hempel Foundation). The goal was to convene both donors and local stakeholders to explore solutions to save the 337,331 acre Ankarafantsika National Park, which is a globally important Protected Area in peril.

Ankarafantsika National Park contains 820 plant species with an endemism rate of 89.3% (meaning they are highly unique to this particular area), including three families of plants that are found only in this park. The park is also home to 37 species of mammals, 70 reptile species, 14 amphibian species (including the Critically Endangered Ankarafantsika Stub-toed Frog), plus the Critically Endangered Coquerel’s sifaka and Golden-brown mouse lemur. Three species of scorpions are only found in Ankarafantsika.

From an ecosystems service perspective, Ankarafantsika National Park is the single most important Protected Area in Madagascar as it is a critical water tower that feeds the second most important rice basket in the country— rice being the staple diet for the nation.

Tragically, this vital home for wildlife and critical water tank for thousands of rice growers is in danger. In just the past decade, Ankarafantsika National Park has lost almost one-quarter of its forest cover according to Global Forest Watch, including a further 1-2% forest loss in 2023. The main pressures include cutting down trees for timber and charcoal production, which in turn has produced degraded forests that are prone to fires set by local people in order to spread non-natural grasslands for cattle.

From 2014 – 2022, Ankarafantsika lost over 58,000 acres of tree cover, experiencing a 22% decrease in tree cover since 2000

The challenges here are immense but the stakes for biodiversity and people could not be higher.

Conservation Allies has supported efforts at this Park for more than 10 years, but in recent years has increased support to our coalition of partners – Association Fosa, Planet Madagascar, and Madagascar National Parks.

The major outcome of the two-day meeting was a collective commitment to zero deforestation— significantly stepping up funding for mixed brigade park protection and law enforcement patrols to stop illegal activities— by the 100th anniversary of the park in 2027.