The fragmented habitats we are working to reforest
What an exciting few months we have had with Project Ala! The project was officially launched in July, and this was shortly followed by our first planting event. With our first seedlings planted, we are a big step closer to saving this fragmented habitat.
Planting events are very busy occasions for Laza, our Project Coordinator: community members must be employed, land cleared, holes dug and seedlings and compost carried, all before the seedlings are finally planted. With one of Project Ala's corridors being 222m in length, there is a lot of work to be done and the team needs lots of helping hands to undertake the physical labour involved.
Members of the local community begin work several days before planting commences. They start by clearing the land, removing the ground vegetation – which in our case is mostly an invasive heather species – to make way for digging the holes. Holes are dug 3m apart, and without technology or fancy equipment in the field, a piece of rope marked at every 3m is used to help decide where to dig the holes. Then it is finally time to plant the seedlings.
Tree planting can be a lively event, with everyone mucking in to get their hands dirty. Women from the local community receive training on how best to plant the seedlings, to increase the chances of their survival. When the planting begins, all the women are conversing about their week and the local goings-on – it is a great chance for SEED’s Conservation and Research Program (SCRP) volunteers to speak to members of the community, learning their names and practising their Malagasy!
Now that planting is underway, we’ve begun field research on Project Ala too, and are excited to have found a very promising survival rate among our seedlings in the first two forest corridors. We’ve also been collecting data about the lemurs, amphibians and reptiles living in the forest remnants, which will help us to assess the success of these new corridors going forward.
Over the next couple of months, Project Ala has a lot to look forward to. We will be beginning our youth education sessions in local communities, clearing up firebreaks around the protected area and erecting fire mitigation signs. We will also be planting the last two corridors, so watch this space for more updates!
Carrying seedlings to the corridors for planting
Invasive heather needing clearing before planting