The Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) is supporting community-based conservation at 11 priority areas for plant conservation in Madagascar. Our strategy for conserving these sites integrates a range of activities that include research and monitoring, the creation and policing of local rules to enable the sustainable use of natural resources, environmental education, the provision of alternatives to the unsustainable over-exploitation of natural resources, poverty alleviation, and the restoration of degraded ecosystems. While this approach is successfully conserving biodiversity in the short term and at local scales, over a longer time period these reserves will become increasingly threatened by a rapidly growing human population whose livelihood is dependent on natural resources that will become increasingly rare outside of protected natural areas. Extensive ecological restoration of landscapes surrounding reserves is a prerequisite in Madagascar for the long-term conservation of these protected areas and will thus be an essential part of a national effort to achieve Target 4 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC). Here, we describe our current restoration program, analyze its strengths and weaknesses, and consider the threats and opportunities relating to restoration in Madagascar. This information is used to identify key attributes for a proposed up-scaled restoration initiative that can serve to develop more sophisticated methods, strengthen expertise through training, and demonstrate the power of ecological restoration for achieving long-term, sustainable conservation outcomes, as called for by the GSPC.
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