Madagascar Environmental Education Conference


After an email from Antje Rendigs of the Madagascar Wildlife Conservation, Alison Jolly and I had the idea to get together some small UK-based environmental education efforts at  the University of Sussex. It quickly began attracting some of the major players in Madagascar, including UNICEF, Wildlife Conservation Society, among many others, including Primate Conservation MSc leaders at Oxford Brooks, Blue Ventures, McCrae Conservation and Education Fund. I also gave a talk on behalf of the Conservation, Education & Outreach team from CentreValBio at Ranomafana National Park.

It was really a wonderful day. The visiting speakers were delightful and diverse, and  both the MA students and the participants seemed to really enjoy it and learn a lot. Alison’s morning lecture got the day off and running beautifully, weaving us through Madagascar’s history and some hope for the future. The lunch and IT arrangements, and spaces were flawless- thanks to MA program leader Ricardo Sabates. And Dr. Mairead Dunne, Director for the Centre for International Education gave a stunning introduction. The following day, participants set out the the Linklater Pavilion, to see an inspiring example of environmental education emerging out of the community. http://www.railwaylandproject.org/

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The little idea sparked a major effort hosted by the MA program in International Education and Development. Fellow students joined in for the full day of meetings, and we were able to hear diverse perspectives from park programs, youth leadership to music and story books. Now, there are talks of creating an official network for Madagascar, with meetings to discuss currently taking place in Madagascar’s capital city. It all begins with getting people together and sharing diverse perspectives.

Great hope for what is to come!




MADAGASCAR Lecture – Alison Jolly

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I would like to formally announce an open lecture by Madagascar’s most prominent voice, Dr. Alison Jolly, sponsored by the MA for International Education and Development.

on the 27th of January 2011 @ 9am

University of Sussex, Silverstone SB 309

Alison Jolly on Challenges of Environmental Education in Madagascar 

“Most foreigners, if they think of Madagascar at all, think “Lemurs!” About 90% of the island-continent’s forest species are endemic, including the 100 species of lemurs. However, biodiversity has never been part of the Malagasy school curriculum. Environmental education is usually a list of negatives: “Don’t set bush fires, Don’t cut the forest, Don’t increase erosion,” when all these are fundamental to rural livelihoods. Currently one module on tourism in national parks is proposed in the new curriculum, but in a setting of extreme national poverty, resentment toward parks that block people’s access to land, rape of rosewood to profit a wealthy few, conflicts over future mining income, and vulnerability to climate change. The challenge for environmentalists is to bridge the gap between foreign and local values: what matters to people on the ground and what matters scientifically and aesthetically to the world at large.”

Madagascar Traditional Healers

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Dear Readers,

A message from Eileen Larney, of Ranomafana National Park’s research centre, struck me as worth sharing. Reading accounts of the health situation of villagers surrounding Ranomafana National Park has literally brought me to tears. Local access to health care has been a constant struggle. Extraordinarily high levels of worms, malaria, parasites, and other tropical diseases far outweigh these crises in other places of extreme poverty. After shifts in funding paradigms, health care was lost. New programs are up and running again, and with some help, traditional healers can have a clinic too. Eileen is now trying to raise funds to help these traditional healers build a basic clinic for the local community. These healers’ traditional wisdom has helped our global medicine advance worldwide through pharmaceutical visits, yet, they have no means to help their own people.

If you’d like to make a tax-deductable donation, information is available on this site: http://ictetropics.org/ and to donate: http://www.ictetropics.org/donate.html (If you do donate directly, indicate funds are for the “FIMARA Clinic”). But if you’d like to get in touch with Eileen, please contact me.

Happy New Year!