Supporting associations

Preserving the forests of Makay: a biodiversity treasure chest

The food and financial security of local communities is key to safeguarding forest ecosystems in the Makay

Preserving the forests of Makay: a biodiversity treasure chest

Project leader
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Duration of the partnership


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The project and its challenges


The Makay, a biodiversity sanctuary threatened with extinction:

Located in southwestern Madagascar, the Makay Massif covers 400,000 hectares, including 22,000 hectares of forest, and harbors a remarkable number of endemic, extinct, or threatened species not found elsewhere on the island. Over millions of years, the fauna and flora sought refuge and flourished in these valleys, which are several hundred meters deep.

However, the deep forested canyons today cannot adequately protect against poaching and fires set by farmers and herders from surrounding villages. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest cover have already disappeared, and deforestation is accelerating. Local populations are compelled, during times of famine, to clear large portions of forests to create farmland and to hunt wild animals and gather tubers for sustenance.


Fighting famine to protect local populations and surrounding forests:

For the past decade, Naturevolution has been working to preserve and restore the unique and fragile forest ecosystems of the Makay. To achieve this goal, the association has implemented a range of complementary initiatives, from protecting natural habitats through the creation of the Makay Protected Area (forest guards, reforestation, awareness campaigns) to developing sustainable economic alternatives (beekeeping, agroforestry, ecotourism), and improving local living conditions (various projects promoting access to education, healthcare, water, energy, and food).

To learn more, take a look at the Makay project presentation video :

Results of the first partnership cycle from 2021 to 2023:

The MDM Foundation has supported Naturevolution since 2021 in its project for the conservation and development of the Makay. The funds provided have contributed to :


1.Reforesting the outskirts of the Makay and reducing wood consumption, including:

  • Establishment of 14 nurseries and replanting of 100,000 trees across 100 hectares.
  • Recruitment of 3 on-site training supervisors and 24 nursery workers.

2.Raising awareness among local populations about the richness and fragility of the Makay forests and the rules of the Protected Area:

  • Recruitment, training, and equipping of 18 guards for patrols within the Protected Area.
  • Conducting training sessions and participatory science missions for local communities.

3.Ensuring food security for local populations:

  • Implementation of vegetable gardens, rice paddies, and canteens in 4 villages.
  • Training families in the villages and recruiting awareness agents.

4.Developing economic activities based on forest health:

  • Establishment of educational apiaries and training in beekeeping.
  • Collection, packaging, and sale of honey with support from partner Compagnie du Miel and establishment of a fruit cooperative.


Objectives of the second partnership phase from 2024 to 2026 :

The MDM Foundation is renewing its support to the association for a second 3-year partnership cycle with the following objectives:

1.Reforest the outskirts of the Makay and reduce wood consumption:

  • Maintain the 14 existing nurseries and plant 420,000 trees annually on 420 hectares with local communities.
  • Monitor deforestation and reforestation efforts using satellite imagery.

2.Develop forest-friendly economic activities with beekeeping:

  • Establish 10 apiaries, train and equip 10 beekeepers.
  • Collect, package, and sell honey and wax.

3.Strengthen the association’s team:

  • Hire an executive assistant and a Makay project coordinator.




The project targets primarily 4 villages located downstream of the largest forest basins of the Makay (Ambalamanga, Tsivoko, Mahasoa, and Antsakoazato), with a population of approximately 1,200 inhabitants. All villagers are sensitized to environmental issues and the need to protect their forested watersheds, benefiting from the economic and social development of their villages.

Nearly 600 children also benefit from the implementation of free school meals and improved schooling conditions, and 250 individuals are trained and employed (nursery workers, farmers, eco-guards, beekeepers).

The small localities surrounding the Makay, totaling over 24,000 villagers, will also benefit from wood and other products (fruits, honey, medicinal plants, etc.) from reforested areas.

The pros of the project

To combat deforestation and the loss of biodiversity in the Makay, Naturevolution has introduced a holistic conservation strategy. In addition to reforestation activities and effective forest monitoring, the issues of food insecurity, instability and illiteracy must be addressed in order to put an end to deforestation and subsistence poaching.

“Let’s work together to reduce the human impact and protect one of the last refuges for endangered species — before it’s too late”

Evrard Wendenbaum President of the association
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Project leader Naturevolution

Since 2010, the Naturevolution association has helped conserve the last remaining Terra Incognita areas, remote natural environments that are rich in biodiversity but highly threatened in the short to medium term. To do this, it is creating protected areas and developing economic and social development programmes in collaboration with the local communities that depend on them. At the same time, it is organising exploration and scientific research missions to improve knowledge about living things.