Epicenter of Biodiversity Gets Visitor Center
Source Newsroom: Wildlife Conservation Society
Madagascar’s Masoala National Park Interpretive Center Inaugurated
MaMaBay Environmental Campus will help implement conservation programs in epicenter of Madagascar biodiversity
WCS designed and constructed new facility in collaboration with Madagascar National Parks
Newswise — NEW YORK (December 11, 2013) — The new MaMaBay Environmental Campus, inaugurated on Friday November 22, 2013 by Madagascar’s Prime Minister Jean Omer Beriziky will help implement conservation programs in the epicenter of Madagascar biodiversity. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), in collaboration with Madagascar National Parks, designed and constructed the new center.
The campus consists of a welcome center and interpretive center for Masoala National Park, along with a multipurpose classroom, a viewing tower and an administration building for the newly designated Makira Natural Park. This Environmental Campus will become a key source of information and interpretive materials as well as serve as a central meeting and training location within the region.
The administration block of the campus will bring together the management teams of Madagascar’s two largest Parks to reinforce an integrative and collaborative approach to ensuring the lasting protection and integrity of the MaMaBay land/seascape. The interpretive center was designed to explore the natural and cultural significance of Masoala National Park through the eyes of the Malagasy people, and the multipurpose classroom was designed to provide a common venue for all MaMaBay stakeholder groups to meet.
With the welcome center facilitating tourists’ trips to Masoala National Park, visitors to the interpretive center will gain an understanding of Masoala as highly valuable to the both people of Madagascar and the greater global community. Each gallery features a different aspect of the MaMaBay land/seascape, from the forest and rivers to the ocean. It features photos taken by local school children who were loaned cameras and asked to take pictures specifically for the exhibits.
The multipurpose classroom will benefit the various community stakeholder groups; serving as a forum for discussion, education, and training that will reinforce the integrative approach to conservation that the MaMaBay exemplifies. The interpretive center was designed by the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Exhibition and Graphic Arts Department. The overall campus design, layout and construction oversight were provided by the office of German architect Otmar Dodel based in Antananarivo.
The new MaMaBay Environmental Campus embodies the collective efforts of WCS, Madagascar National Parks and partners to promote an integrative approach to securing the protection of this last great wilderness.
MaMaBay encompasses marine, coastal, and forest habitats, and includes Madagascar’s largest protected areas: Masoala National Park – a World Heritage Site – and Makira Natural Park. Together Masoala, Makira, and their buffer zones represent over 900,000 hectares (3,474 square miles) and protect over 10 percent of the remaining forests of Madagascar, including half of the island’s critically endangered coastal forest and 25 percent of the remaining critically threatened lowland forest. Home to 22 species of the island’s unique lemurs, these forests contain the richest diversity of any of Madagascar’s protected areas: among these are the locally endemic red-ruffed lemur and the critically endangered silky sifaka – one the world 20 most endangered primates.
MaMaBay’s essential ecosystem services support over a quarter million subsistence farmers and fishers, whose livelihoods are inextricably linked with the health of these ecosystems.
WCS has been a conservation leader in this region for two decades. Today, WCS and its partners are striving to realize an ambitious vision for the conservation of Madagascar’s last great wilderness: MaMaBay’s abundant and diverse flora and fauna – including lemurs, fosa, humpback whales, and sharks – thriving in contiguous and effectively protected forests, mangroves, and coral reefs, buffered and connected by community areas that support sustainable forestry, agriculture, and fisheries.
The MaMaBay Environmental Campus was made possible through generous funding support and contributions from the Rubel Family, Edith McBean, Zoo Zurich, Embassy of Switzerland in Antananarivo, Sunshine Comes First Ltd., Tany Meva Foundation, World Bank and Holcim of Madagascar.
The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit www.wcs.org.