Local livelihoods

Improving Livelihoods of Local Human Populations

In all of the landscapes where WCS works in Madagascar, local communities are essential to the success of our conservation initiatives. Madagascar is one of the world’s poorest countries and rural communities that live in and around the protected areas where WCS works. Paradoxically these people are both the largest sources of threats to the protected areas – e.g. through hunting, fishing or slash and burn agriculture, and the only solution to Madagascar’s conservation crisis.

As an NGO dedicated to the conservation of the world’s biodiversity, WCS also has an obligation to “do no harm” to local communities dependent on natural resources and where possible to implement strategies that improve their wellbeing.

Wherever possible, WCS aims to integrate community focused activities into our conservation work to generate incentives for local communities to change harmful behavior and engage in conservation in a way that benefits both their own wellbeing and the natural resources on which they depend. Our range of livelihoods and community development activities includes:

Building Capacity in Natural Resources Management: training and capacity building activities help local communities collect and analyze basic data to make decisions about the best use of their own natural resources. Examples include support to locally managed marine area (LMMAs) to determine seasonal closures for octopus, training for community forest managers on ecological monitoring and patrolling, and support to the creation of management plans for community forest areas.

Improved Subsistence Agriculture and Fishing:  by supporting communities to learn and adopt improved agricultural techniques, the ecological footprint of their activities can be reduced while yields are increased. Examples include intensified rice production systems that reduce clearing for new rice paddies or equipment restrictions in LMMAs that allow larger and more valuable fish to be caught while juveniles are protected. 

Provision of Alternative Protein Sources: to reduce hunting and illegal fishing alternative sources of protein and micronutrients are promoted through household-scale livestock activities with chicken and endemic fish farming. Support to veterinary services – including vaccinations – is an essential part of this work.

Conservation Enterprises:  conservation enterprises are defined by WCS as community-led cooperatives or businesses that sustainably exploit or transform natural resource based products. WCS supports conservation enterprises working with raffia, cocoa, vanilla, cloves and ecotourism  as well as marine products such as sea cucumber and seaweed farms. Contact us  if you would like further details on any of these products! Read more

Sustainable Financing for Community Development Activities: Each sale of carbon credits from Makira Natural Park generates revenues that are used by local communities for development activities such as schools, health projects or training in agricultural techniques. 50% of net revenue from each sale is earmarked for these activities. You can buy credits on either of these online platforms:
or contact us directly!

In the marine areas where we work we support communities to access small grants and facilitate partnerships with private sector partners who provide support for community development.