The goal of my project is to excite and enhance feelings of ownership and pride in the children for their forest. In the completed visitor center’s wall, they will see themselves celebrated as forest guardians. These children hold the future of Ranomafana in their hands.
Children in Madagascar also are woefully under-educated about their own riches of biodiversity. In those rural areas which have remaining natural forest they see lemurs and other wildlife, but they usually do not know that over 80% of Madagascar’s wild species are unique to the island-continent, nor that the particular species of their own part of the country exist only in their own limited region. Town children and those in the far-flung agricultural zones have not even seen a lemur.
The biodiversity of Madagascar is seriously threatened, mainly by human activities. The direct causes are linked with over-harvesting of trees for timber and fuel combined with slash and burn agriculture for the cultivation of rice and maize. However, the underlying causes of the threats are linked to a dearth of alternative revenue resources, lack of education and training opportunities, economic downturn in cash crop profits, reduced interest in agro business, local poverty and demographic pressures. In addition to land protection, the future of conservation in Madagascar depends on improving the standard of living and economic opportunities for people in the region, creating economic incentives for conservation, and raising awareness and pride for the island’s unique natural heritage. The need for conservation, conservation education, and local empowerment in Madagascar is extreme.
This year of the virus has been extremely difficult for the people of Madagascar. The loss of income from tourism has devastated the economy. Ranomafana lost all tourist income. It will take years to regroup from these losses. The painting workshops and forest walks also will offer the children much needed distraction from these difficult times and give them happiness. My project goal is to empower the children’s voices for conservation through art.
“When you plant one rice seed, you harvest a hundred.” Malagasy Proverb
The poster will be installed in May of 2022. The installation was delayed by Madagascar border restrictions.