Ambaro Bay in northwest Madagascar is one of the country’s largest and ecologically most valuable mangrove habitats. The mangroves are the most important spawning and nursery area for shrimps and other marine organisms in the region. Fisheries and mangrove use are the most important traditional income sources for the local and mostly poor population, who also practice small-scale farming (principally rice, sugarcane, and some vegetables).
Regulations on natural resources use are often not enforced. Due to illegal logging and cooking charcoal production, the rate of mangrove loss is quite alarming. The project will focus on four villages: Antsatrana, Ankazomborona, Ampasivelona and Antenina. Altogether, 4,180 ha of mangrove stands (approx. 20% of Ambaro Bay’s mangroves) belong to these villages account.
In addition, from March until June, many migrants from inland come to the coasts increasing up to tree folds the coastal villages’ population. The migrants are often inexperienced fishermen and little interest in sustainable resource use. Countless juvenile shrimps, which are still too small for consumption, are caught in the tight-meshed nets (often mosquito nets) preventing stocks from regenerating. It is estimated that up to 40% of the catch is from illegal nets.
Due to climate change, the project area is particularly affected by rising temperatures (air and sea waters), shorter and more intense rainy seasons, increased erosion and sedimentation in the mangroves, longer periods of strong winds, and an increasing number of cyclones. Mangroves are intrinsically resilient and adaptive against climate change. However, mangrove increasing destruction causes the decline of its natural capacity to cope with extreme events. Poor communities, whose livelihoods are dependent on mangrove use, have no alternative income sources and are particularly vulnerable to climate change effects.