Madagascar Study Could Provide Conservation Blue Print

The results of a ten-year study into species conservation in Madagascar, published in this week’s Science, could act as a blue print for future areas to conserve species richness in biodiversity ‘hot spots’.

An international team of researchers, including scientists from the Natural History Museum, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the University of York, built up a vast library of information across a wide range of species whilst in Madagascar. Specially designed software was used to work out the range of each species and how to devise the optimum way of saving them from extinction. Conservation planning has traditionally focused on protecting one species or group of species at a time. This is the first time that such a detailed database over such a broad range of species and such a wide area of land has been developed.

Madagascar has a very high level of endemism and species richness but faces massive threats. Only 10% of its original forested habitat remains. The results of the research will form the basis of the Malagasy government’s plans to triple the area of protected land in Madagascar, extending existing networks of protected species.

Aligning Conservation Priorities Across Taxa in Madagascar with High-Resolution Planning Tools. C. Kremen et al. Science 11 April 2008.