The St Andrews Prize for the Environment

University of St Andrews


2014 Winner

An Integrated Approach to Conservation

An Integrated Approach to Conservation

This holistic approach to integrating community-based health services with local biodiversity conservation initiatives empowers local communities in southwest Madagascar to protect their marine environment and manage their resources sustainably.

This innovative model improves food security, enables better provision for families and boosts local conservation efforts by allowing populations to achieve a more sustainable balance with the rich marine ecosystems upon which their livelihoods depend.

Along Madagascar's southwest coast, semi-nomadic Vezo fishing people face extremely limited access to basic health services, with clinics located up to 50 kilometres from some villages. Blue Ventures is addressing this challenge by training female community health workers to offer health services in their villages, supported by a wide-ranging programme of community education.

The programme co-ordinates with their biodiversity conservation initiatives and engages men and women in sustainable fisheries management, which over the past decade have established some of the largest locally-run marine protected areas in Madagascar. Alongside these conservation and health initiatives, Blue Ventures is also pioneering community-based aquaculture enterprises that diversify coastal livelihoods, thus reducing dependence on fishing.

Currently involving 20,000 people living in 50 of Madagascar's poorest and most isolated coastal villages, there is a huge need to take this integrated approach to scale with other communities and ecosystems.

To address this need, a network of health and conservation agencies is being convened to work in some of Madagascar's most biodiverse and under-served areas, to explore opportunities for scaling-up this inter-disciplinary model through cross-sector partnerships.

Winning The St Andrews Prize for the Environment provides a vital boost to this work, supporting their ongoing efforts to drive broader adoption of their integrated model:

Blue Ventures' work is supported by partnerships with the Government of Madagascar's Ministries of Environment and Health, the University of Toliara’s Marine Science Institute, Population Services International, Marie Stopes Madagascar, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Worldwide Fund for Nature, Conservation International, the MacArthur Foundation, the Helmsley Charitable Trust, the Waterloo Foundation, the UK Government's Department for International Development, and Norges Vel.

We are thrilled that The St Andrews Prize for the Environment is highlighting our inter-disciplinary model as a pragmatic solution to supporting environmental conservation and the needs of communities in one of the world’s most critical biodiversity hotspots.

Dr Vikas Mohan Medical Director of Blue Ventures Conservation.

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