Meeting the President of Madagascar
November 27, 2015
Meeting my President at Chatham House in London was a day to remember for me!
I am a Merton College final year DPhil candidate working with Professor Kathy Willis in the Zoology Department of the University of Oxford and the last two years in the UK have been eventful to say the least.
I am deeply committed to the conservation of biodiversity in my country and I have worked for some 15 years as Coordinator of Ecological Monitoring and Protected Areas in the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Madagascar programme. My leadership in innovative conservation field-work was first acknowledged when I won the 2006 Ramsar Crane Bank Award of the African Ramsar Secretariat, and last year I was delighted to win the 2014 Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa, which was presented to me by HRH Prince William, who is Patron of the Tusk Trust. This year I was honoured to be invited to a meeting with my President to talk directly with him about conservation.
My informal meeting with HE President Hery Rajaonarimampianina and a number of key cabinet staff at Chatham House in London was a valuable opportunity for me to discuss strategies for managing the 88 new Protected Areas, covering more than 4 million hectares, officially approved in July 2015 by the government of Madagascar. Investing more in these Protected Areas, implementing sustainable management, and improving law enforcement will play an important role in helping to raise the profile of Madagascar as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots
My approach to encouraging participation in conservation activity is based on the idea that local communities should not always be blamed for being responsible for critical degradation of the environment. I believe that integrating local communities into the monitoring and conservation process through open village meetings, and the development of trust and greater transparency, should result in a significant improvement both in the management of natural resources and in human wellbeing in the long term.
I was so happy to hear what my supervisor Kathy Willis said during her two week visit to Madagascar:
“Herizo is conducting an amazing research project, looking at the effectiveness of community-based conservation projects in protecting ecosystem services, conserving biodiversity, and enhancing social well-being in Madagascar. His findings will provide a better understanding of how best to save Madagascar’s spectacular biodiversity while reducing human poverty”.
It is such a pleasure to hear approval of my work in Oxford and wonderful to have had the opportunity of discussing it with influential leaders in my own country.
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