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Bringing voices from Madagascar’s rainforest into the heart of the international climate change debate

A number of international meetings are happening this year, which will, among many other things, set in place mechanisms to conserve and restore tropical forests for the next decades. Tropical forests store carbon so conserving them is a key Nature Based Solution to climate change. However for forest conservation to effective, and crucially to avoid contributing to poverty in poorer countries, it needs to better include the people living in those forests. Unfortunately, their voices are seldom heard in the international policy discussions.

The film, ‘Voices from the forest”, aims to change that by bringing the voices and views of those affected by forest conservation, into the heart of international policy debate. It was made by researchers from the University of Antananarivo and Bangor University, people living at the forest frontier in Madagascar, and young Malagasy film-makers, and explores how global efforts to conserve forests are experienced by local people. The aim is to go beyond simplistic ‘win-win’ narratives that assume forest conservation and restoration inevitably also reduce poverty.

The film will be launched online on the 1st October in an online event including an expert panel discussion chaired by Tom Heap from BBC’s “Countryfile” and “39 Ways to Save the Planet”. There will be an introduction from Madagascar’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development. The panel will focus on solutions to delivering effective and equitable forest conservation and restoration which contributes to the fight against climate change.

The trailer for the film was recently shown on the plenary stage of the World Conservation Congress in Marseille and there are plans for it to be shown at COP26 in Glasgow.

Julia P G Jones, professor of conservations science a Bangor University who was involved in making the film said:

“With my Malagasy colleagues I have been doing research about the impact of conservation on communities for many years. We have published many academic journal articles but who reads journals? This project is so satisfying as people can relate so much better to a film, with compelling stories, than to dry academic research.”

Dr Sarobidy Rakotonarivo from the University of Antananarivo who led the project in Madagascar said:

“Forest conservation and restoration has a really important contribution to make in the fight against climate change. However it is really important that poor people in countries like Madagascar are not negatively impacted by conservation policies. Unfortunately the realities on the ground are often not properly understood by those making the policies, so local people need a proper voice in the discussions.”

Tom Heap who will be chairing the panel discussion at the launch said:

“I’ve recently been exploring different approaches to tackling climate change for my BBC Radio 4 programme ‘39 Ways to Save the Planet’. Forest conservation and restoration is clearly important but isn’t simple to achieve. I am looking forward to some robust discussion at this event and hopefully, some solutions will emerge.”

The Malagasy team recently went back to one of the villages where they have been working to show the film and pictures of the trailer being projected at the main stage at the World Conservation Congress.

Mirindra Rakotoarisoa, who was involved in making the film, said:

“It was wonderful to finally share our film with the people it is aiming to represent. They were delighted with it as felt it really captured the challenges they face and the realities on the ground. Many of the people we interviewed are certainly not against forest conservation and deeply value the forest. However conservation policies can be harmful if they are not designed to properly involve them.”

The film includes music from well known Malagasy artist D’Gary and is narrated by the environmentalist Hanitra

You can register for the free online film launch and panel discussion (1st October and 13:00) here:



Publication date: 24 September 2021

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