JRS first invested in the Madagascar Lemurs Portal (MLP) with a planning grant in early 2016, and four years later, this project is entering its final phase to be an essential tool for conserving Madagascar’s 110 lemur species. Lemurs are the quintessential example of how the biodiversity threat dynamic operates on the island nation, where nine out of every ten plants and animals are found nowhere else on earth. Poor access to knowledge about lemur populations has hampered conservation efforts, and the MLP serves as a robust platform to share knowledge about lemur occurrences and create synergy among research, policy, and conservation actions.
JRS’ funding of $51,000 to the Madagascar Biodiversity Fund (Fondation pour les Aires Protégées et la Biodiversité de Madagascar, FAPBM) will build upon the current momentum and ensure that the MLP becomes an integral part of conservation assessments and decision-making processes. This phase of work is expected to increase portal participation by 25%, with at least 300 active users by 2021.
The goal of the MLP project was to create a technically and scientifically robust, user-friendly, open-access tool that is regularly used by a wide range of user groups. FAPBM was successful in developing this tool in close partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society Madagascar (WCS) and Groupe d’Etude et de Recherche sur les Primates de Madagascar (GERP), both founding partners in this initiative. Human and technical capacity have increased as a result of this project and the MLP currently contains about 15,000 species occurrence records and more than 1,000 documents pertaining to lemurs. However, bringing new users to the portal has proven more difficult than expected, and the focus in 2020 will be expanding the MLP community so that this portal can reach its full potential and contribute directly to improved lemur conservation. Technical improvements to the portal include a more user-friendly homepage and the addition of a species distribution model function, a dynamic interface for a lemur research directive, and 3,000 new species occurrence records in the database. Collectively, these efforts are expected to increase exposure and use of the MLP, establishing it as a reference tool for lemur research and conservation decisions and building strong institutional partnerships for long-term success.
The MLP is one of several emergent portals funded by the JRS Biodiversity Foundation that have been designed and built by local software developers. The Foundation hopes that the basic MLP functionality and architecture may be transferred to other species-focused conservation communities. To find out more about the first two phases of this project, please visit: