In Focus, September 2002
BirdLife International has embarked on an initiative to establish a Malagasy organization as an official partner, a long-term project that will help meet a critical need for conservation capacity building in Madagascar. The project will also help build a national constituency for bird and biodiversity conservation.
BirdLife, a global alliance of national organizations in more than 100 countries, has developed a rigorous and tested process for developing the capacity of national nongovernmental organizations—a vital approach to enhance effective civil society participation in conservation efforts. In Madagascar, only Malagasy staff will be employed.
The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is supporting the first phase of the initiative. Key elements include developing the core team and program of an effective nongovernmental partner organization, conducting a training needs assessment and in-depth training. The latter will include surveys in at least two high priority sites that lack sufficient data, and reviewing and updating conservation priorities developed in 1999.
The new partner would ultimately be equipped to implement communication, advocacy and awareness-raising programs; collaborate effectively with other national and international organizations and the Malagasy government; increase private sector support for conservation in Madagascar; and conserve important sites, species and habitats.
In Madagascar, BirdLife has identified five Endemic Bird Areas, which are regions that host a high number of unique bird species. Within these regions, it has also identified 84 smaller Important Bird Areas as priority bird and biodiversity conservation sites for targeted conservation activities.