ICTE and Centre ValBio focus the world’s attention on Madagascar’s lemur crisis through targeted research, conservation, and capacity building.
Supporting lemur conservation by promoting world-class research, encouraging environmental conservation, and building local capacity
The Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments (ICTE) was established by Dr. Patricia Wright in 1991 to encourage and promote scientific research, training and conservation in the tropics. ICTE – together with Stony Brook University – maintain a state-of-the-art research station, Centre ValBio, adjacent to Ranomafana National Park in eastern Madagascar. This research station hosts hundreds of researchers, students, and eco-tourists each year; it is truly the only facility of its kind in the country.
Centre ValBio (CVB) – founded in 2003 – helps both indigenous people and the international community better understand the value of conservation in Madagascar and around the world. CVB’s mission has three main objectives: 1) To promote world-class research in one of the world’s most biologically diverse and unique ecosystems; 2) To encourage environmental conservation by developing ecologically sustainable economic development programs with local villages; and 3) To provide the local villagers with the knowledge and tools to improve their quality of life through projects focused on sanitation, diet, and education, and ultimately reduce poverty in the area.
What lemur species do ICTE and the Centre Valbio protect?
The work of ICTE/Centre Valbio places particular emphasis on the region surrounding the Ranomafana National Park, in eastern Madagascar. This park is host to several lemur species, including:
- Aye aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis)
- Brown mouse lemur (Microcebus rufus)
- Eastern wooly lemur (Avahi laniger)
- Golden bamboo lemur (Hapalemur aureus)
- Greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus)
- Milne-Edwards’ sifaka (Propithecus edwardsi)
It is important to note that long-term research programs are a big priority to ICTE, who trains scientists at all levels through field-based courses, collaborations, and academic exchanges. More than 400 scientific publications have directly resulted from work conducted in partnership with the Centre ValBio. In addition, the organization also conducts biodiversity research and ecological assessments of tropical ecosystems, and coordinates and catalogs the work of over 800 natural and social scientists!
Recent successes at CVB include the translocation of three Prolemur simus from a forest fragment to the national park, as well as the discovery of a thriving group in a nearby region!
Influencing environmental policy to help lemurs
The Ranomafana National Park – which protects 41,500 hectares of rainforest – was created with the help of Dr. Patricia Wright, the founder of ICTE and CVB. Since the creation of this park, the organization has continued to help bring attention to the plight of lemurs and biodiversity in Madagascar at the regional, national, and international level.
Partnering with local communities
One of the central missions of ICTE/CVB has been collaboration and partnerships with the local Malagasy community. CVB employs over 80 local Malagasy as guides and staff for the research station, and has opened up opportunities for work in the park and surrounding areas. In addition to providing sustainable employment, CVB organizes multiple outreach programs in the fields of education, the arts, sustainable agriculture, and reforestation.
Centre ValBio leads outreach and public awareness programs that highlight the unique biodiversity of Madagascar; most of this works is achieved through 15 conservation clubs spread across 22 villages that contain almost 500 members. They also use audiovisual and hands-on demonstrations to teach about biodiversity and reforestation in 19 local schools. Most recently, Centre ValBio and ICTE support a range of education initiatives in the Ranomafana region through the PLAY project.
The Centre ValBio undertakes educational outreach aimed at teaching the value of trees, not just for animals, but for clean water and erosion control as well. Their reforestation initiatives have also targeted schools through their “from schools to the communities programs”, which has worked with 22 villages and 15 clubs on reforestation initiatives.
Health and hygiene
CVB works to improve the local communities’ nutritional conditions through education, implementation of infrastructure, and follow-up on improved sanitary practices. For example, CVB provides seeds and training for vegetable gardens to improve nutritional conditions in impoverished rural communities.