To ensure the balance between development and conservation, government at national and local levels, businesses and local population must develop and implement suitable tools including policies, guidelines and plans. The development of these tools must be participatory for all stakeholders to own and use them efficiently. The value of PAs must be ascertained and incorporated into these tools in order to make wise trade-offs between conservation and development. Knowing the economic value of natural resources is among the key steps to sensitize people on their importance and to arouse among them the preservation and the rational exploitation of this wealth while considering the required compensations if needed. Thus, it is important: (1) to know short, mid and long economic value of the protected areas and natural resources; their value according to local use/to exploitation, their long term value if they are maintained. In both case, the assessment must consider the advantages and drawbacks of the option. (2) To integrate conservation and development through direct activities linked to conservation (ecotourism, handcraft,..) , through the synergy between conservation and development programs
Madagascar, hosts 1/20th of the world biodiversity and has a high rate of endemism (more than 70%) that has led to classify this island among the 34-biodiversity hotspots in the world. However, this biodiversity is frightened by different pressures mainly driven by poverty: slash and burn culture, poaching, small scale mining, wood fuel and charcoal production. Initiatives aiming at integrating conservation and development are already emerging around some protected areas of Madagascar. In the Eastern part of the island, the people living around the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park have created schools and increased the area of rice plots thanks to the 50% of entrances fees that Madagascar National Park allocated to them. In Makira New Protected Area, the Wildlife Conservation Society in partnership with the Fondation Tany Meva has implemented a “green belt” around the park in order to preserve the integrity of the park while improving the livelihood of local communities. In the current Malagasy context where development of tourism is still fragile, and the benefit coming out of the carbon market still uncertain, the main challenge is to find the suitable way to upscale the above-mentioned achievements so as to cover Madagascar’s 6 million Ha of Protected Areas. Meanwhile this would help reducing the number of people living in poverty (currently more than 75% of Malagasy people) and malnutrition as well as increasing access to drinking water and electricity.
One key element that impacts the success of this approach is the involvement of the surrounding population of the parks into the economic assessment process of the natural resource, so that they can take part to the analysis of the projects to be developed in the future. Indeed, those projects must also consider the specificities of the local context (social, economic, environmental) and the needs of the local population (technical needs, capacity building, and financial support). The use of a value chain approach is an option that can be considered so as to achieve the expected objectives. In the context of extreme poverty, environmental/conservation issues are relegated in the background. There is a need to “value” natural resources in order to qualify them as “economic wealth”. Therefore, their integration in public finance may be one of the solutions to reinforce citizen commitment: for local population, to authorities and private sectors.