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Landscape Stewardship for Nature and People 

Our Pilot Project

Using participatory approaches, we implement innovative projects (iLabs) based on local ideas. These iLabs mobilize the resources of local actors, enabling producers and inhabitants to coexist sustainably with nature while improving their well-being

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The LSNP succeeds a six-year research project of the University of Bern, ESSA Forêts (University of Antananarivo), and ETH Zürich. Thanks to the knowledge gained and personal relationships established, Fizono was found to be the ideal starting point for development of new strategies of concrete project implementation.

Our participatory process to develop and implement innovative laboratories (iLabs) aims to enable sustainable livelihoods in Fizono. In addition, the project’s activities seek to reduce deforestation and related environmental pressure.

To incorporate regional concerns, a multi-stakeholder platform is facilitated in the district capital and wider scale innovations are discussed.
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Learning
Learning plays a central role in the iLab development process as well as monitoring and evaluation. The process fosters exchange and learning not only within the local population, but also across scales.
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Broad participation in iLabs
We believe that local groups who have a shared reliance on natural resources, but remain uncoordinated are among the most vulnerable people in the region. We believe they should be included in local processes of conceptualization, innovation, and entrepreneurial implementation. Against this background, we provide small grants to individuals and groups in need of organization and support.
 
All interested village residents may apply to participate in the iLab elaboration process and all the main village stakeholders are incorporated.
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Iterations
A number of iterations are foreseen in the project setup. Besides enabling inclusion and learning, iterations support adaptive management. This makes it possible to react to the dynamic development conditions in which persons from different cultural backgrounds and complex realities interact.
Initiating local innovations
After a month of intense preparations, we held our first kick-off workshops in November 2019 to initiate innovation processes at both the regional and local level.
 
Questions such as “What is your vision for Fizono’s future in 20 years?” were used to stimulate discussions in the first workshops. Representatives of the main stakeholder groups in Fizono came up with clear ideas, in particular on behalf of a vision of “secured livelihoods and living in harmony with forests”.
 
Several workshops were held to encourage participants to come up with ideas about how to realize their vision. This led to processes of innovation and information exchange that spread among participants and gave rise to a number of project proposals.
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In this phase, 59 iLab proposals comprising 15 different topics were created and submitted. Following detailed iterative assessment by a committee of local representatives and the project team, 11 iLab proposals were selected encompassing the following topics:
  • Beekeeping and honey production
  • Vegetable cultivation
  • Plastic recycling and tailoring
  • Gastronomy
  • Tree seedling cultivation and distribution
  • Chicken and duck breeding
  • Fish farming
iLab elaboration phase
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iLab implementation phase
In this phase, we began detailed planning, including assessment of project risks such as livestock diseases and budgetary concerns. In May 2021, we initiated our first workshop on capacity building and knowledge transfer with experts from the region. Finally, iLab implementation began in early summer 2021.

The evaluation phase measuring each project’s implementation and outputs will conclude the pilot phase in the final quarter of 2021.
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Going forward, we seek to enable synergies between iLabs on behalf of more sustainable landscapes. We seek to create added value, for example, via cultivation of crops to feed chickens or by linking fish farming with restaurants. Additionally, we seek to support iLab leaders in marketing their products in neighbourhood villages to generate another value-chain dimension.
Beginning in 2022, we plan to implement the Full Circle Initiative in other villages surrounding our pilot village, Fizono, as a next step towards achievement of broader impacts at the regional level.