Since every hotspot is unique in biome type and location, implementation of the outlined plan will vary from hotspot to hotspot. This page details how this implementation would take place within Madagascar, a country well known for its biodiversity. This case study is meant to give an idea of how our solution can be implemented in one country so that leaders of other countries can follow similar methods for determining how to best protect their hotspots.
Because it is an island, Madagascar contains a large variety of endemic species, which cannot be found anywhere else in the world (Cancio). Furthermore, the habitats many of these creatures are threatened, making Madagascar a hotspot, as we chose to define hotpots primarily by endemism and threat level. Madagascar is also home to a population of 20.7 million people (Madagascar-data and statistics, 2011). This classifies the hotspot as a Level Two Area, meaning that preservation efforts will need to take into account the people living within the hotspot.
As a Level Two area, logging, hunting, farming, and fishing will be limited to amounts and methods that are sustainable. As of 2003, agriculture accounted for 29 percent of Madagascar’s GDP. However, Eco-tourism is a growing industry in Madagascar. Major exports include coffee and vanilla (Protected Areas in Madagascar).
Given this information, it is clear that eliminating farming without a suitable replacement would be nearly impossible because of the number of people that depend on farming as a source of income. However, there are options for replacing this source. Encouraging farmers to turn to shade-grown coffee (which has less of an impact on biodiversity and can be sold for higher prices than regular coffee) can increase farmer’s profits. On a wider scale, increasing the levels of eco-tourism could provide new livelihoods for those who would otherwise turn to economic practices that lead to the destruction of hotspots. If the people of Madagascar can be educated on the ways that they can profit from eco-tourism, this could serve as a major incentive to avoid activities that cause biodiversity loss.
Madagascar is a republic that has been suffering political upheaval for the last few years. The New York Times reported that Rajoelina, the Malagasy president “does not seem to be very much in charge,” and illicit trade in rosewood trees has increased 25-fold since 2009 (Madagascar, 2010).
With this severe lack of governmental power, policy regulation becomes incredibly difficult. For this reason, we suggest that Madagascar use our proposed incentive-based system of enforcement. Under this system, incentives in the form of aid (such as food, medicine, and other basic necessities) would be given to citizens who respect hotspot regulations. Those who engage in practices that are harmful to biodiversity or are caught breaking a regulation would lose this aid. Since about 50 perecent of Madagascar’s population lives in poverty (Protected Areas in Madagascar), this aid will provide the Malagasy people with vital assistance while encouraging them to respect their nation’s biodiversity. This practice could be carried out by Protectors of Biodiversity without the assistance of government, since Protectors of Biodiversity can be employed by the ICB.
In order to give out incentive in the form of aid, Madagascar will require a large amount of funding. Over the course of the last ten years, Madagascar has invested 75 million dollars in the creation of protected areas. Much of this funding came from investments from various governments and world organizations, including the World Bank, Conservation International, and the French Development Agency (Protected Areas in Madagascar). Madagascar is already widely recognized as an important part of any world effort for preserving biodiversity, and as such is able to gain funding from interest groups and governments. We suggest that Madagascar continue its effort to search for donors who can help it afford the preservation that is required.
Because of its status as an eco-tourism destination, Madagascar also has the ability to gain funding by imposing a tax on tourists. This tax could cover costs imposed by the additional regulation and monitoring that is necessary for ensuring that tourists do not cause harm to the island’s biodiversity, but should be small enough that it does not discourage eco-tourism. However, such a tax requires governmental support. If Madagascar’s government remains weak, this may not be possible.
Due to the high international interest in Madagascar’s biodiversity, recruiting foreign Protectors of Biodiversity with formal scientific training is unlikely to be difficult. However, POBs cannot be solely from other countries. Recruiting locals to take an active part in regulating hotspots will encourage the Malagasy to more readily accept decisions made on their behalf. Local Protectors of Biodiversity will also be more suited to decide which regulations are feasible considering the culture and economy of Madagascar. Candidates should include those whose livelihoods would be eliminated by regulation, giving them new jobs, as well as those Malagasy who care deeply about the land.
Vital to changing the viewpoints of Madagascar’s citizens is convincing them that biodiversity friendly practices are in their best interests. Education should revolve around farming methods that do not harm biodiversity and the benefits of these methods, including increased profits, and increased trade in eco-tourism.
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