Supporting associations

Preserving Forests on the Island of Sainte-Marie

Stopping the deforestation of ecosystems by protecting 3 natural forests and the Sainte-Marie mangrove

Preserving Forests on the Island of Sainte-Marie

Project leader
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Duration of the partnership


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The Project and its Challenges

With 4000 hectares of forests, of which 800 are remarkable, 172 ha of mangroves and 49 species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, the island of Sainte-Marie has been classified as a priority site to be protected by the state of Madagascar. Slash-and-burn agriculture, over-exploitation of resources and land pressure cause deforestation and soil erosion and directly threaten the island’s biodiversity and the future services of ecosystems given back to the population.

To put a stop to this deforestation process, the project supports local actors in the implementation of conservation actions, in particular in the creation of a marine and terrestrial Protected Area, taking into account the three forests and marine and coastal ecosystems (reefs and mangroves) and the management of an ecological restoration programme for these ecosystems.


Having benefited from a partnership with the Maisons du Monde Foundation since 2016, GRET has carried out various actions as part of its project to preserve the island of Sainte-Marie.

Review of the results of the main actions carried out during six years of partnership:

  • Identification of the socio-ecological system (floristic and faunistic inventories, participative socio-economic studies) for the preservation of more than 260 species of interest to the island’s biodiversity

  • Submission of the initiative file for the creation of the Sainte-Marie Protected Area to the authorities

  • Involvement of the population through an association that federates them in the preservation of common goods, in particular the Kalalao forest, and its forest restoration of 5.6 hectares and 8.5 hectares of mangroves with local communities

The partnership has been renewed for a further three years to strengthen the involvement and empowerment of local populations, with the aim of scaling up, both geographically and in terms of beneficiaries and managed activities.

The project performance targets for 2022–2024 are as follows:

  • To create conditions for shared governance and management of the future Protected Area, with a forest anti-crime programme, an awareness programme and an ecological restoration programme
  • To ensure legal recognition and of the Protected Area and capitalize on its creation process using the Commons Approach
  • To improve the socio-economic resilience of communities affected by the Protected Area, with training in market gardening techniques and by promoting the community-based ecotourism. 

Beneficiaries of the Project

GRET; 30,000 inhabitants involved in the dialogue and consultation process; 80 members of the PCADDISM (Plateforme Concertation Appui Développement Durable Ile Sainte-Marie — consultation platform to support sustainable development on Nosy Boraha); 80 pilot households in areas adjacent to the Kalalao forest 

The devolved and decentralised fishing, agriculture and environment authorities (urban municipality of Nosy Boraha) will also indirectly benefit from the project. Finally, as part of this partnership renewal, 60 new households will benefit from the support of GRET for the development of alternative economic activities.

The "Pros" of the Project

The consultation platform aims to:

  • Establish integrated coastal zone management and accountability for all local stakeholders.
  • Ensure an understanding of the links between deforestation problems and impacts on all other activities.
  • Create a space for dialogue and resolution of conflicts regarding usage through working groups.
  • Provide technical support and guidance to mobilised island stakeholders.

GRET’s approach to this project is designed to:

  • Bring together local powers (private, non-profit and community sectors, commune etc.)
  • Enhance the initiatives carried out by actors local to Nosy Boraha
  • Strengthen them to promote their ownership

“This project allows us to restore a part of the mangrove forest that was razed during the construction of the Belle Vue seawall and bridge. This restoration is particularly important for Sainte Marie because the mangroves are spawning and nursery grounds for fish and shellfish. (…) A mangrove forest in good health thanks to the monitoring activities of the Communauté Locale de Base de St Joseph, manager of the mangrove forest, provides hope for an increase in fish and shellfish resources.”

Abdallah ISSOUF of the Communauté Locale (VOI) of St Joseph, beneficiary of the project.
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Project leader GRET

Gret is a French NGO founded in 1976, which acts from work on the ground all the way up to influencing policy, with the aim of providing sustainable and innovative answers to the challenges of poverty, inequality and natural resource management. GRET’s 771 professionals work on 150 projects per year in 28 countries.