Strengthened local surveillance of valuable rainforest in Madagascar

UNESCO with partners have reinforced local measures aiming at removing the rainforest of Atsinanana from the List of World Heritage in Danger.



The purpose of the project was to meet the conditions for the rainforest of Atsinanana to be withdrawn from the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Why did Norway decide to support this project?

The rainforests of Atsinanana on Madagascar was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2007. In 2009, following a political crisis in the country, the integrity of the property was seriously threatened.  Illegal exploitation of precious woods increased dramatically. Given the seriousness of these threats, the World Heritage Committee inscribed the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2010.

UNESCO, together with civil society partners, proposed an emergency plan to re-establish the conditions that would allow the rainforests of Atsinanana to be withdrawn from the List of World Heritage in Danger. Given the high relevance for the Norwegian International Climate and Forest Initiative and a solid project plan, Norad decided to support the project.

The specific objective of the project was that the Outstanding Universal Value the Rainforest of Atsinanana is restored (with reference point being the situation in 2008).

This was to be achieved through four expected results:
  1. The pressures of logging of precious woods and deforestation in the two parks are brought under permanent control.
  2. A system of ecological monitoring of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) attributes is operational and contributes directly to their long-term conservation.
  3. Neighbouring communities are actively involved in the protection of the sites.
  4. The state of conservation of the property is closely monitored by the World Heritage Centre.


UNESCO’s report concludes that the overall objective to remove the Rainforests of the Atsinanana from the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger has not been achieved. However, progress has been made towards meeting five of eleven corrective measures required to be removed from the list.

Result 1: UNESCO reports that the result was partially achieved. From the data provided, there seems not to be any significant change in deforestation rates. The number of recorded illegal cuttings of precious wood, however, declined from the baseline in 2010 to 2016. Some pressure on the forest in terms of illegal logging and poaching, remains. To amend this, a law enforcement monitoring tool which was developed in the project, was adopted by all six national parks composing the World Heritage Property. UNESCO also reports an increased number of surveillance missions undertaken by local park committees, especially in Marojejy national park. An external evaluation of the project highlights that some of the technique and tools may even be adopted and utilized at national level by the relevant authorities.

Result 2: UNESCO reports on this result as fully achieved. In Norad’s viewpoint, the indicator information does not indicate significant change in cases where both baseline and end-data exist. However, a good achievement is that a detailed biological inventory has been completed and entered into a database. This database will provide an important reference against which future changes of biological indicators can be monitored.

Result 3: UNESCO reports that this result was fully achieved. The community mobilization approach led, according to the report, to changes in community behavior and to more active contributions in reducing pressure on the forests. This achievement is verified by the external evaluation. The number of man days of patrol undertaken by members of the local communities increased significantly. 28 communities obtained funds from the Global Environmental Facility’s Small Grants Programme (out of 40 proposals presented). These micro-projects for alternative income sources increase prospects of sustained involvement of local communities in forest protection.

Result 4: UNESCO reports this result as accomplished. UNESCO has reported periodically to the World Heritage Center on the progress of the project. It also conducted a reactive monitoring mission with IUCN to assess the progress made towards implementation of the World Heritage Committee recommendations for removal from the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Lessons learned

Of lessons learned in the project, the report highlights the need for good coordination between different actors working towards similar objectives. It is also crucial that both local communities and government authorities take their responsibility for sustainable protection of Atsinanana rainforest. 



The result descriptions are based on the information provided by the organisations. Their presentations and conclusions do not necessarily reflect the views of Norad. Norad has not verified all results reported.

Published 27.05.2014
Last updated 19.06.2018