Communities Leading the Way to Save Madagascar’s Mangroves

Photo: Mud pit on the path to Ambalahonko, northwest Madagascar

“About three years ago I noticed that the high tides were coming up into my rice fields, and taking the soil away with them. I’d never seen that before,” Philippe, a rice farmer from the village of Ambalahonko, tells me from under his wide-brimmed straw hat; something my fair-skinned and fine-haired self, unfortunately, did not have the foresight to invest in prior to our four-hour excursion.

“That’s what convinced me to join the mangrove management association. It’s getting serious, and we have to do something.”

Ambalahonko is about three miles off the Route Nationale 6, just north of the city of Ambanja in northwest Madagascar. I’ve come here today to learn a bit more about Philippe and his association’s work, which we at Blue Ventures have been supporting for the past two years.

A mud pit on the path to Ambalahonko, northwest Madagascar (Photography by Brian Jones)

Turning off the tarmac road, we head down a rutted sand path cutting through verdant cacao and coffee plots dotted with the occasional thatch house on stilts. Massive shade trees provide relief from the blazing tropical sun as we carefully pick our way, dodging an incessant stream of bicycle-mounted fish vendors, making their daily dash from the fisher landing sites to the markets in Ambanja. Eschewing the frivolity of a bell or a horn, the only warning of their approach is a hastily shouted “beep beep!

These fish vendors are master strategists, constantly weighing the benefit of staying to buy a bit more fish against cutting out early and trying to be the first to market in order to get a better price.

A fish vendor on his way to the Ambanja market (Photography by Brian Jones)

Philippe is also president of Ambalahonko’s mangrove management association, locally referred to as the “CLB”, a French acronym for —> Read More