Mats of Water hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes covering the Alaotra wetland (photo: Pina Lammers); Madagascar Conservation & Development

Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), any opportunities for the Alaotra wetlands and livelihoods?

Tsiry F. Rakotoarisoa, Patrick O. Waeber, Torsten Richter, Jasmin Mantilla-Contreras

Abstract


Species invasions are one of the world’s most severe conservation threats. The invasive water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) is one of the most troublesome plants in the world. It appears in over 50 tropical and subtropical countries. This plant species causes several ecological and socioeconomic problems affecting ecosystems and local livelihoods. The water hyacinth occurs in the Alaotra wetlands encompassing the largest lake of Madagascar. The Alaotra region is renowned as Madagascar’s bread basket as it is the biggest rice and inland fish producer. The current study collected socioeconomic data from the Alaotra wetland stakeholders within three locations around Lake Alaotra to contextualize local livelihoods and to identify the drivers and barriers for the utilization of this plant. Methods of control seem to be unrealistic due to institutional and financial limitations in Madagascar. Using the plant as fertilizer, animal fodder or for handicrafts seems to represent a feasible alternative to improve the livelihood of the local population. However, local concerns about livelihood security may hinder acceptance of such new alternatives. Providing information as well as financial and technical support to local stakeholders may help encourage the use of the water hyacinth in the Alaotra region.

 

RÉSUMÉ

Les espèces envahissantes ont été récemment identifiées comme l’une des principales menaces pour la protection de la biodiversité. La jacinthe d’eau (Eichhornia crassipes) est l’une des plantes envahissantes les plus problématiques au monde. Elle est connue dans plus de 50 pays tropicaux et subtropicaux. Cette plante est la source de nombreux problèmes écologiques et économiques et affecte par conséquent les écosystèmes ainsi que les moyens de subsistance des populations humaines des régions concernées. Elle est rencontrée au niveau des zones humides de l’Alaotra englobant le plus grand lac de Madagascar, le premier grenier à riz de l’île et qui tient une place importance pour la pêche. Les méthodes pour contrôler la prolifération des jacinthes d’eau semblent ne pas pouvoir être appliquées à cause des limitations institutionnelles et financières de Madagascar. L’utilisation de la jacinthe d’eau, comme fertilisants, fourrage ou dans la production artisanale, pourrait représenter une alternative pour améliorer les moyens de subsistance de la population locale. Au cours de cette étude, des données socioéconomiques touchant les parties prenantes des zones humides de l’Alaotra ont été collectées dans trois localités qui se différencient au niveau de la dégradation de l’habitat naturel (Anororo, Andreba et Vohimarina). Les objectifs de cette recherche consistent d’une part à décrire des différents moyens de subsistance locale et d’autre part à identifier les moteurs et barrières de l’utilisation de la jacinthe d’eau. Le contexte général affectant la sécurité des moyens de subsistance pourrait bloquer l’acceptation de l’utilisation de cette plante. Cependant l’information ainsi que des supports financiers et techniques pour les parties prenantes locales sont des moteurs importants pour encourager l’usage de la jacinthe d’eau au niveau du lac Alaotra.


Keywords


Species invasion; Invasive species management; African wetlands; Madagascar

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