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The pilot village in northeastern Madagascar

Only few percent of the original tropical rainforests in this area remain, encompassing ecosystems where the majority of the local plants and animal are endemic

Loss of biodiversity rich, humid forests in northeastern Madagascar continues unabated, despite several decades of conservation efforts

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The remote village of Fizono is situated in the hilly landscape of Northeastern Madagascar at the border of the Masoala National Park that is one of the core zones of protected areas on the island.

While large contiguous forests are restricted to the core zones of protected areas today, smaller forest fragments are dispersed throughout the landscape.

Access to the village is only possible on foot or by motor bike.

Rice production is at the very centre of life in the culture of the Betsimisaraka, the dominant ethnic group in this region. The approximately 3,500 inhabitants of Fizono are also mainly rice farmers. They live from subsistence farming such as irrigated paddy rice in lowlands, rainfed rice in the uplands via shifting cultivation and farming of cash cops.

Highly vulnerable livelihoods are a local reality, as tropical cyclones and diseases threaten agriculture and households in the area.
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The space needed for subsistence farming and cash cropping continues to grow: Small-scale farmers expand their land continuously to meet their immediate and future livelihood needs. The expansion puts pressure on the remaining rainforest. In addition, former forests areas are repurposed to agriculture land.

Triggered by strong demands from international markets, farmers obtain additional income on a seasonal basis by cultivating cash crops like vanilla – but this endangers the remaining rainforests in many cases.

This shows that the conservation of tropical rainforests is deeply connected with the social and economic situation of the surrounding communities and international market demands.
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