As groups gather for the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco from Sept 12-14, WCS has released a video showcasing how communities in Madagascar are doing their part to fight climate change.  Watch the video here.

Local indigenous communities in the Makira landscape have limited access to economic opportunities and relied on traditional forms of natural resource extraction such as illegal logging and land-intensive rice farming for their survival. These livelihoods not only cause significant deforestation in one of the world’s reaming biodiversity hotspots but also leaves local households trapped in poverty as natural resources and available land become scarcer.

To break these cycles, WCS is working with local communities and governments to introduce new revenue generating opportunities and help lift households out of poverty and promote alternative livelihoods that conserve Makira’s globally unique biodiversity. Introducing local farmers to cocoa planting was a great option to provide households with greater income security and preserve forest cover. Cocoa offers the benefits of growing in shaded areas without the need for any tree clearing and can produce up to three times a year, allowing farmers to collect revenue multiple times as opposed to rice, vanilla, cloves, or coffee which only produce annual harvests.

Strategies such as cocoa planting also provided added revenue for local communities through payments for carbon emission reductions created by reduced forest loss. These carbon revenues are invested by the communities in much needed public infrastructure (such as schools and irrigation systems), public health services, youth education, and further training in sustainable agriculture.

The Makira REDD+ project is the largest carbon emission reduction program in Madagascar’s land use sector and has played a critical role in demonstrating REDD+ successes in conserving high biodiversity value landscapes. Experiences from the implementation of the Makira REDD+ project have also provided important learning outcomes informing the design of Madagascar’s National REDD+ Program, expected to launch in 2019, as part of the country’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions under the Paris Climate Agreement.