Protecting Madagascar’s Nosy Hara Archipelago

Geographical location:

Africa/Madagascar > West Indian Ocean > Madagascar

Nosy Hara, Madagascar.
© WWF Madagascar / Remi Ratsimbazafy


The Nosy Hara archipelago off the northern tip of Madagascar is made up of about 12 small islands surrounded by coral reef, making it a popular site for swimming and snorkeling.

To protect the coral and rich marine species, WWF is working to establish one of the first large-scale marine protected areas in Madagascar to ensure the area’s effective conservation and sustainable management for the benefit of local communities.

The Nosy Hara Archipelago Conservation project aims to protect marine resources from unsustainable exploitation. Through the development of employment and revenue-generating opportunities it should play a pivotal role in helping the country achieve its goals.


Madagascar has more than 5,000km of coast with more than 250 islands, some of the world’s largest coral reef systems, and some of the most extensive mangrove areas in the Western Indian Ocean.

Despite the commercial value of the coasts and inshore waters and their potential to offer economic development and poverty relief, these waters are currently poorly preserved. Only 2 protected areas exist covering small regions in the Northeast, namely Masoala marine parks (10,000ha), and Atafana Islands marine park (1,000ha).

The Nosy Hara Archipelago Conservation project will be one of the first large-scale marine protected areas in Madagascar. Little experience regarding management of marine parks or reserves currently exists in the country, and Nosy Hara Archipelago will provide a means to develop and test innovative approaches.


Overall objective

Represent and conserve the biodiversity and ecological goods and services of the Nosy Hara Archipelago Conservation Area in perpetuity, and promote sustainable use in order to meet local community needs and contribute to national and regional economic development strategies.

Specific objectives

- Establishment of the Nosy Hara Archipelago marine protected area (MPA).

- Development of efficient management structures and systems.

- Identification and implementation of sustainable use mechanisms, including the development of ecotourism in the protected area.

- Improved awareness concerning conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, and the roles and values of the new protected area.

- Financial mechanisms to ensure sustainability of the protected area and its management explored and developed.

- Identification and creation of additional protected areas under regional or community management, and increase of ecotourism options in the region as a strategy to attract more visitors to Nosy Hara Archipelago and other sites while contributing to regional economic development plans.


As a traditionally exploited and culturally important area, the Nosy Hara Archipelago must be co-managed with local communities, regardless of which administrative authority is legally mandated to ensure its conservation.

Such an approach has not been used in Madagascar to date, and the project must develop and test new approaches that will ensure the area’s effective conservation and sustainable management. Long-term management responsibilities must be decided during the first 3 years of the project.

Another high priority of the project will be the exploration, testing and consolidation of approaches that ensure long-term management and financial sustainability. On the financial front, potential options include a combination of ecotourism revenues, private sector investment and access to the newly created Foundation for Protected Areas and Biodiversity in Madagascar.

More generally, local acceptance and participation will be a key factor in ensuring sustainability. The Nosy Hara Archipelago Conservation project will be the first step in addressing the following challenges: creating a new protected area that is correctly classified under Malagasy legislation, testing and refining of existing zoning plans, developing management systems and determining long-term roles and responsibilities, harmonizing biodiversity conservation with traditional local use, and seeking mechanisms to ensure long-term sustainability.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Donate to WWF

Your support will help us build a future where humans live in harmony with nature.

Enter Yes if you accept the terms and conditions