Gold mining in Kianjavato (Photo by Ed Louis); Madagascar Conservation & Development

The use of natural resources to improve household income, health, and nutrition within the forests of Kianjavato, Madagascar

Cortni Borgerson, Steig E. Johnson, Edward E. Louis, Sheila M. Holmes, Anjaranirina Evelin Jean Gasta, Hervet J. Randriamady, Christopher D. Golden

Abstract


Understanding natural resource extraction in Madagascar is key to developing wider conservation and management strategies that ensure the continued delivery of essential ecosystem services, and the development of health and economic strategies to meet the demands of a growing human population. In the Kianjavato lowland rainforest of southeastern Madagascar, 78% of lemur species, 83% of native carnivoran species, and 67% of frugivorous bat species are threatened with extinction. All three of these groups of mammals are commonly hunted for food in other regions of Madagascar, yet we know little about current levels of hunting or whether the use of forest resources significantly affects human welfare in this region. We used health assessments of 1267 Kianjavato residents and semi-structured interviews of members of 336 households in 17 communities in Kianjavato to investigate human-environmental interactions. We found high prevalence of child and teenage malnutrition. More than half of the population under 20 years old was stunted, more than half was underweight, and more than one fifth was wasted. Further, one in six residents were anemic. We found that Kianjavato’s forests provided essential ecosystem services for its rural communities. As Kianjavato’s forests are altered to meet the needs of a growing human population, these direct-use ecosystem services (such as the use of wild animals for food or plants for medicine) are unable to similarly expand to meet the basic needs of the families living in these forests. A worrying proportion of the Kianjavato population depends on forests to meet their healthcare, nutritional, and economic needs, yet they may be failing to do so. All surveyed households (100%) depended on forests to meet their healthcare needs and 40% of the regional economy involved the extraction of finite forest resources (i.e., precious stones). Most households consumed very little wildlife (two animals per household per year) and the great majority (83%) of the forest animals they ate were not threatened with extinction. Forty percent of wildlife were caught illegally. Although hunting is likely not imperiling local wildlife at present, 16% of the Kianjavato population hunts wildlife and 20% are malnourished. The ecosystem services of Kianjavato’s forests may currently be insufficient to meet the needs of residents. Therefore, targeted efforts to increase local access to the healthcare system and to improve household nutrition and economy by improving the production and stability of local agricultural products may increase the long-term sustainability of both wildlife hunting, household incomes, and regional food security. Efforts such as these that can expand with the growing population to meet future needs may help secure the sustainable use of essential ecosystem services for the long term, improving the health of local people and maintaining the integrity of the forests in which they live.

 

Résumé

Comprendre l'utilisation des ressources naturelles à Madagascar est essentiel pour développer des stratégies de conservation et de gestion plus larges qui permettent à la fois de fournir des services écosystémiques et de développer des stratégies sanitaires et économiques afin de répondre aux besoins d'une population humaine toujours croissante. Dans la forêt tropicale humide de basse altitude de Kianjavato dans le sud-est de Madagascar, 78% des espèces de lémuriens, 83% des espèces de carnivores indigènes et 67% des espèces de chauves-souris frugivores sont menacés d'extinction. Ces trois groupes de mammifères sont généralement chassés dans d'autres régions de Madagascar, mais nous en savons peu sur les niveaux actuels de chasse ou si l'utilisation des ressources forestières affecte significativement le bien-être humain dans cette région. Nous avons conduit une évaluation sanitaire sur 1267 habitants de Kianjavato, ainsi que des entretiens semi-structurés avec des membres de 336 ménages dans 17 communautés de Kianjavato afin d’étudier les interactions entre l’Homme et l’environnement. Nous avons constaté une forte prévalence de la malnutrition chez les enfants et les adolescents. Plus de la moitié de la population âgée de moins de 20 ans souffre d'un retard de croissance, plus de la moitié d’une insuffisance pondérale et plus d'un cinquième d’émaciation. En outre, un résident sur six est anémique. Nous avons constaté que les forêts de Kianjavato fournissent des services écosystémiques essentiels à ces communautés rurales. Comme les forêts de Kianjavato sont altérées pour répondre aux besoins d'une population croissante, ces services écosystémiques à usage direct (tels que la consommation d'animaux sauvages ou des plantes médicinales) ne peuvent plus couvrir les besoins fondamentaux des familles qui y vivent. Une proportion inquiétante de la population de Kianjavato dépend des forêts quant à ses besoins sanitaires, nutritionnels et économiques, cependant ces dernières ne peuvent plus y pourvoir entièrement. Tous les ménages enquêtés (100%) comptent sur la forêt pour la satisfaction de leurs besoins sanitaires. Par ailleurs, l’exploitation de ressources forestières finies (extraction de pierres précieuses) représente 40% de l’économie régionale. La plupart des ménages consommaient très peu d'animaux sauvages (deux animaux par ménage par an) et la grande majorité (83%) des animaux forestiers qu'ils mangeaient n'étaient pas menacés d'extinction. Cependant, 40% de ces animaux forestiers ont été capturés de manière illicite. Certes la chasse ne menace pas actuellement la faune locale mais 16% de la population de Kianjavato reconnaît s’y adonner et 20% souffrent de malnutrition. Les services écosystémiques s’avèrent actuellement insuffisants pour répondre aux besoins des résidents. Il est par conséquent nécessaire de cibler les efforts pour accroître l’accès local au système de santé, ensuite pour améliorer la nutrition et l’économie des ménages (améliorer la production et la stabilité des produits agricoles locaux), et tout ceci dans le but d’augmenter la viabilité à long terme de la chasse, des revenus et de la sécurité alimentaire dans cette région. De tels efforts lorsqu’ils prennent en compte la croissance de la population - et donc ses besoins futurs accrus —peuvent aider à assurer l’utilisation durable des services écosystémiques, à améliorer la santé des populations locales, et en fin de compte, à maintenir l’intégrité des forêts dans lesquelles elles vivent.


Keywords


Hunting, Bushmeat, Livelihoods, Traditional medicine, Precious stones, Prolemur simus, Lemurs, Tenrecs, Bats, Euplerids, Non-timber forest products, Natural resource use

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Madag. conserv. dev.
ISSN: 1662-2510