WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?
Madagascar is an extraordinary and exotic island paradise. 165 million years of isolation have created a globally important biodiversity treasure with over 80% of species endemic to the island. But an increasing population is having a devastating impact, causing deforestation and erosion; the red soil running into the seas has led to the sadly evocative name of "the bleeding island".
The Malagasy government is now working with international conservation and aid agencies to halt this destruction and save the island's invaluable biodiversity and Frontier volunteers are an integral part of this effort.
Record Marine Biodiversity
Threats to the coastal environment on and around Nosy Be are on the up as unregulated tourism is on the increase and the local population is growing. Increasing competition for food means that artisanal fishing techniques such as seine-netting become inadequate and inefficient, encouraging use of less discriminate catch practices such as dynamite fishing. Other threats include the over-harvesting of shark fins, octopus and sea cucumbers and the over-collecting of shells and corals for the expanding marine curio trade.
Your project activities will depend on the time of year you join and the length of your stay but may include surveying mangroves, a vital buffer against elements such as tsunamis, and also documenting coastal bird and reptile populations, an important part of the coastal ecosystem. If you are only able to join the project for 2 or 3 weeks your involvement in the research surveys will be limited but your conservation work will still be valuable.
Malagasy Culture & Communities
Working alongside the Malagasy people will give you an insight into their extraordinary culture. You may even be invited to some of their ceremonies, such as local weddings or the Donia street festival. Community work includes environmental education in local schools to explain Frontier's work and accompanying local fishermen to record their catches of fish, sharks and turtles. The data from your investigations will supply vital information on the coastline for the Madagascan national programme.
WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
The marine research and conservation programme is run in association with L'Institut Halieutique et des Sciences Marine (IHSM) with whom Frontier has been in partnership since 2000. The research and conservation project aims to provide the local stakeholders and government bodies with the information they need to design and implement management plans for the future protection of this pristine marine ecosystem. To gather the data needed you will be working regularly, weather permitting, with Sunday off. You'll be locating and helping to map the important coastal zone habitats from mangroves and intertidals to offshore shallow reefs and you'll observe the various communities existing on them.
Whilst swimming and shore snorkelling, you may encounter an extraordinary array of animals, from turtles to rays, sea cucumbers to feathery starfish and spiny urchins to octopus. If you're there in the right season your work may even allow you to observe dolphins or gigantic whale sharks.
You will also have the chance to get involved in our community work, perhaps by helping with environmental education sessions or by helping to teach English to villagers. By the end of your stay you should be able to identify a number of coloured and patterned reef fish, you will have made friends with the local villagers, especially the children, and have obtained an enviable tan. The work is intense and challenging and you'll get immense satisfaction from having survived your beach camping experience and from having made a valuable contribution to the conservation of this untarnished marine wilderness. You will return home with the new friends you've made and a wealth of incredible photos, videos and memories.
You'll find your team to be a fun, dynamic mix of ages and experiences, with members who all share a passion for travelling in developing countries and saving endangered wildlife. Your staff will be young, friendly individuals who are highly experienced in their field and many of whom have also volunteered on a Frontier project earlier in their career.
For further information about Frontier marine conservation work please refer to the publications section of this website.