UNESCO World Heritage Tsingy de Bemaraha: Better Protection through Local Committees
Through collaborative fire suppression campaigns and the involvement of local stakeholders, communities and authorities in the site management, Madagascar National Parks increased the resilience of the Tsingy de Bemaraha UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The aim of #SOSAfricanHeritage is to contribute to preserving independent and sustainable organisational structures at African World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves with the participation of civil society as well as to secure spaces dedicated to education for global citizenship, sustainability and cultural diversity.
The Tsingy de Bemaraha nature reserve is located in the west of Madagascar and covers 152.000ha. The World Heritage Site offers a great variety of geomorphological structures. It is a veritable cathedral of limestone and forms one of the most spectacular natural landscapes on the island and in the world. The western part of the plateau is formed by a very disected relief, largely covered by a dense, dry deciduous forest. In its eastern part, the forest is interspersed with savannahs. Due to its richness in animal and plant species, Tsingy de Bemaraha is considered to be a centre of endemism.
Restrictions due to the pandemic
The COVID-19-Pandemic is having a wide range of economic and social impacts in Madagascar, including the protection of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The social impact as a whole cannot yet be predicted. Food shortages and poverty will continue to increase in rural areas.
At the same time, a massive increase in fires has been recorded in recent months. By mid-May, the number of fires detected by satellite exceeded the total number of cases documented in 2019. The resulting damage on site is massive: 969 hectares of savannah have burned down, and cases of illegal logging are increasing.
The National Park is also one of the most visited places in Madagascar by international tourists. The closure of the park for tourism has a negative impact on the financial resources for the sites management.
Remedy through education and technical equipment
The project, funded by the German Commission for UNESCO, strengthened the resilience of both the local population and the Natural Heritage site against wildfires and the consequences of the COVID-19-Pandemic. To this end, Madagascar National Parks developed an inclusive fire management strategy equally involving local stakeholders, communities, local authorities and the site management.
For a better monitoring and early detection of potential fires, Madagascar National Parks also purchased GPS devices and smartphones. Park staff were equipped with water bags and trained in wildfire suppression. Local residents were also integrated into firefighting efforts as part of education campaigns. About a hundred families were empowered to be self-sustaining during the pandemic through the provision of chickens, corn seed and rice bran.
On the initiative of the Federal Foreign Office and the Goethe-Institut, an International Relief Fund was set up in summer 2020 to provide rapid support to cultural and educational organisations abroad during the Covid-19 pandemic. With its special support programme #SOSAfricanHeritage, the German Commission for UNESCO is part of the Relief Fund consortium.
- Site: Tsingy de Bemaraha
- Country: Madagascar
- Type of Site: UNESCO World Heritage (natural heritage)
- Year of inscription: 1990