Madagascar Biodiversity Fund – FAPBM (2016)
Development of the Madagascar Lemurs Portal
The significant and unique biodiversity resources found in Madagascar face extreme pressure from anthropogenic activities including slash and burn agriculture and hunting. As the country’s most emblematic species, Madagascar’s 107 lemur species stand as a clear example of the biodiversity threat dynamic operating in Madagascar. Lemurs have garnered increased awareness within conservation and research circles of the growing threats experienced by lemur species, and captured a passionate international and national conservation community that has leveraged significant support for investment in research and field based conservation actions. Nevertheless, efforts to date have failed to reverse negative trends in lemur conservation status. Weak biodiversity information and access to knowledge on the part of stakeholders involved in conservation activities contribute to this failure. Specifically, the community lacks a robust mechanism to share knowledge and to create positive feedback loops among research, policy decisions, and on-the-ground conservation actions.
Following a technical meeting of more than 40 representatives from lemur conservation organizations in February 2016, supported by a planning grant from JRS, a consortium of local conservation partners – the Madagascar Biodiversity Fund (Fondation pour les Aires Protégées et la Biodiversité de Madagascar, FAPBM), Wildlife Conservation Society Madagascar (WCS) and the Groupe d’Etude et de Recherche sur les Primates de Madagascar (GERP) – developed a plan to address this problem by building the ‘Madagascar Lemurs Portal’.
Key Objectives and Activities
The collaborative project will result in an online data portal, a clearinghouse for lemur data that will provide accessible information for a range of user groups, from casually-interested tourists, to managers and academics. The portal will comprise four main components, a species database, with occurrence data for all 109 species of lemur on Madagascar; a forum to facilitate real-time exchange of information, data, and ideas among different user groups; a set of visualizations to aid non-technical users in learning about lemur conservation; and integration of a mobile app for data contribution via citizen science.
A steering committee will oversee development and implementation of the portal through the following activities:
- Engage partners to help develop the portal and to supply data
- Gather and validate data and information including species occurrence and ecological data, threat data, planned and ongoing conservation actions, publications and grey literature relevant to lemur conservation, and conservation and capacity-building tools
- Develop the online forum, including identifying focus topics
- Build a lemur database and portal
- Develop downloadable visualizations and visualization tools
- Grow user and contributor community through communication and outreach
The team will produce a technically and scientifically robust, user-friendly, open-access, tool accessible to a wide range of user groups. At the end of the project period, they plan to have:
- Engagement of 20 partners, to contribute and validate data
- Inclusion of 10,000 lemur occurrence records on all 109 species
- Registration of 500 users on site, half of which participate in the forum
- Visitation by 5,000 non-registered users
- Evidence of portal use including references in academic press, grey literature and social media
The project leaders envision that the Madagascar Lemurs Portal will become an essential tool in certain conservation evaluation and decision making processes (e.g., IUCN Red List assessments and donor and partner monitoring of protected area effectiveness); and that it continuously evolves with the addition of new data sources from users. Specifically, they hope that the portal contributes over the long-term in a direct and tangible way to improved lemur conservation.
Last Updated: March 5th, 2017
The Project Director will be recruited for this project by FAPBM. He/she will be based in Antananarivo and will be in charge of managing the overall activities of the work plan and will liaise closely with the Project Grant Manager, the Project Technical Manger, and with the community of stakeholders in lemurs research and conservation who will use the portal.
Serge Ratsirahonana (Project Grant manager) is the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at Madagascar Biodiversity Fund. He has a background in conservation anthropology. From 2000 to 2010 he worked for an UNESCO World Heritage Program in Madagascar, that ends up with the addition of the Humid Forest of Atsinanana (6 national parks) as a World Heritage site. His professional experiences in project management started as the UNESCO national coordinator and as the Deputy Project manager for CARE International regional project (Coordination, Learning and Sharing Program) implemented in 4 eastern African countries.
Andrimandimbisoa (Dimby) Razafimpahanana (project technical manager) has been Project Coordinator at REBIOMA since 2005. He is an integrated land use manager, GIS analyst, and database specialist with experience in the use of spatial analysis tools, databases, spatial modeling, and conservation planning. He started his career at WCS as a GIS expert during the creation of the Masoala Protected Area in 1995. Since then, he has worked with many conservation organizations including WWF, World Heritage – Tsingy de Bemaraha Project, Madagascar National Parks (MNP), and the Office National pour L’Environnement (ONE).
Notes from JRS
We are excited and a little nervous to see this project launch. We tried and failed five years ago to initiative a similar knowledge sharing platform for lemurs in Madagascar. We learned that to create a knowledge portal to serve a community you need to engage a community to design the resource and to populate it with knowledge. We learned it takes an investment in our convening of partners and our investment in planning activities to do something that is complex both technically and in technology. We hope that the second time’s a charm and that with an inclusive and broad partnership, the advancement of technology, and able leaders that Malagasy conservationists will create a Malagasy knowledge resource to protect Madagascar’s iconic and most endangered mammal.