In the dry forest of southern Madagascar, a region of global conservation priority, formally protected areas are nearly totally absent. We illustrate how the continued existence of unique forest habitats in the Androy region is directly dependent on informal institutions, taboos, regulating human behavior. Qualitative interviews to map and analyze the social mechanisms underlying forest protection have been combined with vegetation analyses of species diversity and composition. Of 188 forest patches, 93% were classified as protected, and in Southern Androy all remaining forest patches larger than 5 ha were protected. Eight different types of forests, with a gradient of social fencing from open access to almost complete entry prohibitions, were identified. Transgressions were well enforced with strong sanctions of significant economic as well as religious importance. Analyses of species diversity between protected and unprotected forests were complicated because of size differences and access restrictions. However, since, for example, in southern Androy >90% of the total remaining forest cover is protected through taboos, these informal institutions represent an important, and presently the only, mechanism for conservation of the highly endemic forest species. We conclude that social aspects, such as local beliefs and legitimate sanctioning systems, need to be analyzed and incorporated along with biodiversity studies for successful conservation.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 36 • No. 8