Project Manondroala got a renowned supporter this summer, when academy professor Ilkka Hanski became its patron.
Hanski is well-known especially for his groundbreaking research among glanville fritillary butterflies on Åland islands, but he and his research group have also worked in a great extent in Madagascar. There they have immersed themselves in the evolutionary history and ecology of Malagasy dung beetle community consisting on about 300 endemic species.
Like probably everyone who has visited Madagascar, Hanski is also very impressed by the unique nature of the island, and is very conserned on its state. Even though Hanski is as a biologist especially interested in sustaining the natural values of the island, he does not consider them as the only reason to protect the forests. “Many problems in the developing world are connected one way or another to the state and changes in the environment”, says Hanski. “And this connection will probably become even more important in the future.”
Manondroala’s forest classification could, according to Hanski, become a milestone in Malagasy conservation history, if it successes to increase the eagerness of the locals to conserve and restore the forests. Knowledge of the spatial structure of the environment is also very important in scientific research, and there will surely be many users for the material produced by the project. “The satellite-image-based constantly updating projection of the stage and structure of the forest is especially interesting”, says Hanski. “This kind of system will surely help both researchers and other actors who need information of the stage and structure of the forest.”
The collaboration with the local association, Mitsinjo, in reforestation activities also gets full support from Hanski. “Even though the target area of the planted forest may sound small, a well-implemented project can work as an example for many other local reforestation projects”, he says.
Hanski hopes the amount of environmental development work would increase and the sector would get furter refined. He thinks it would be especially important to connect conservation to children’s education. For example, the information and material produced by Manondroala could be used as learning material in addition to its supportive use in desicion making.
– Kaisa Torppa