© Geoffroy Mauvais / Geoffroy Mauvais

Preparatory assistance for inscription of the Rainforests of the Atsinanana, Madagascar

The Rainforests of the Atsinanana are predominantly old-growth forests, and, as such, are critically important for the maintenance of ecological processes and the survival of Madagascar’s unique biodiversity. The island’s separation from other land masses 60 million years ago means the rainforests of Madagascar shelter flora and fauna that have evolved in isolation. Although the rainforests are recognised as an essential safeguard of global biodiversity, these forests had not yet been inscribed onto the World Heritage List.

Preparatory assistance, in 2004, included support for the preparation of a nomination dossier in the form of management plans for each national park considered for inscription. These management plans were then implemented in situ, incorporating measures and resources deemed necessary for proper conservation, monitoring and site development. Financed under the France-UNESCO Cooperation Agreement, preparatory assistance funding served as seed money for obtaining more substantial funding. In this regard, it is exemplary of the support of activities central to the World Heritage Centre’s mandate, and of preparatory assistance given to States Parties for under-represented categories of properties and geographic regions.

Work began in 2005, with the objective of updating the management plans for each protected area using identical models and then integrating them into a general management plan. The first step was to conduct data inventory for the nomination, make a record of missing data, and invite public institutions and conservation agencies to supplement this data. The serial property of the Rainforests of the Atsinanana (comprised of six national parks distributed along the eastern part of the Island and representing close to 40% of Madagascar’s protected areas) was submitted in 2006 and inscribed in 2007 at the 31st session of the World Heritage Committee (Christchurch, 2007).