The UN Sustainable Development Goals lie at the very heart of the Torotorofotsy project. Especially goals concerning halting biodiversity loss and land degradation as well as climate change mitigation are driving the project. Here we tell how FANC’s Torotorofotsy project is working towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or Agenda 2030, are universal and are aiming to address ecological, social, cultural and economical problems around the world. The seventeen goals were adopted in the 2015 UN Summit and during the next fifteen years countries will be working towards reaching these goals to fight inequality and address climate change. To reach these goals, everyone needs to take action: countries, cities, companies, organizations and individual people. So how is the project in Torotorofotsy contributing to the development goals?
The project aims to protect the Torotorofotsy wetland, located in eastern Madagascar, from further land degradation and biodiversity loss by improving conservation of the wetland, raising awareness of the wetland’s significance with environmental education and helping local people to develop more sustainable farming techniques and other income sources. These actions address the goal number fifteen ”Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradations and halt biodiversity loss”. Intensive rice cultivation is a cause of land degradation and shifting to sustainable farming techniques helps combating erosion and preserving the land, especially in the future when climate change can cause unpredictable changes in the land.
Preserving the biodiversity in the Torotorofotsy wetland is crucial, as it is home for many endemic species that otherwise could become extinct, like critically endangered Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca). Disappearing of a species can have unpredictable consequences in the ecosystem, and can cause even more species to become extinct. The wetland has obtained an official protection status during the project in 2015. Torotorofotsy has also joined the Ramsar Wetland Convention, an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. The aim of the convention is to ensure that the wetland habitats of the plants and animals are protected for the future years.
Goal number thirteen is about climate action: ”Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”. Wetlands store high amounts of carbondioxide in them, in fact, even more than forests. Carbondioxide is the main greenhouse gas that causes climate change, and land-use change is one of the main reasons behind the increased carbiondioxide levels in the atmosphere. Burning the forests and converting wetlands into farming lands causes all the carbondioxide that was stored in the trees and in the soil to escape to the atmosphere. That is why every planted tree and every preserved acre of wetland helps in the fight against climate change.
Besides focusing on preserving the wetland area and combating climate change, the project has also many social impacts. The local women have been making handicrafts and selling them with the Menalamba Association both locally and through Finnish Association for Nature Conservancy (FANC) in Finland. Sustainable farming techniques ensure food security as well as well-being, jobs and income for the local communities. Preserving the wetland also helps to secure local water supply. In fact, these examples show that social, ecological, economical and cultural development goals are not separate or in conflict with each other, but to really make a change and have sustainable future these goals can be achieved together with new ways of action and fresh ideas.
Text: Tarja Anttila, volunteer in FANC
Pictures: Titta Lassila