Once a year, after the burning season, overflights are conducted in the protected areas in question, using a small aircraft. Two photographers take oblique pictures from both sides of the plane.
From the pictures, new clearings can be localized in Google Earth and maps can be prepared for interventions in the field. Calculating the surface area of the clearings allows for inter-annual monitoring.
The pictures and associated maps are printed and can easily be used for community forest monitoring and interventions on deforested sites. Since the photos are oblique, they are easily interpreted by local communities and protected areas management teams.
By helping to manage forests more sustainably, the project has a major impact on development and the livelihoods of local communities, which are highly dependent on forest products, thus forests should be managed as efficiently as possible.
Information collected in the field during intervention allows understanding the causes of slash-and-burn agriculture and developing adaptive management.
Through the training of protected area managers and local representatives in the use of the aerial photographs, the project provides for capacity building to ensure long-term sustainability of its accomplishments.
The aerial photographs also present an important communications tool, which can be used to alert public opinion or politicians about the extent of slash-and-burn agriculture in certain sites.
The project not only helps conserve the rich biodiversity of Madagascar’s forests, but it also helps mitigate climate change: the burning of forests releases high amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
In the longer term, we aim to have the methodology of aerial surveillance integrated into the management plans of all protected areas in Madagascar.