Experimenting new practices with the US Forest Service

IMG_20221107_114949_639The new tree nursery in Ankaizinina

The United States Forest Service is working in many parts of the world through its International Programs. They have had partners in Africa and Middle East for over 20 years and they have collaborated also with Malagasy institutions.

Early in 2021, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the USFS arranged a webinar for certain Malagasy organisations to discuss activities concerning forest restoration, management of wildfires, restoration of mangrove ecosystems and the trade of precious wood. Since then, the USFS has settled down in Madagascar and is collaborating with many institutions and organisations, including Association Mitsinjo.

On the basis of the webinar, the USFS decided to launch forest activities with Madagascar National Park Menabe and Association Mitsinjo, both having a long experience in phenological restoration. The first stage of collaboration with Mitsinjo began in October 2021 with seedling production. For this purpose, a new tree nursery was first created in Ankaizinina, in the Forest Station of Analamazaotra, Andasibe. In addition to usual plant beds, a greenhouse was built as part of the techniques introduced by the USFS. Its purpose is to create a favourable atmosphere for the germination of seeds during the winter season. The greenhouse also prevents the rain from reaching the seedlings. One of the main parameters to control in this technique is the quantity of water received by the plants.

20220225_100029Plant beds for the wild seedlings were made in early 2022

The construction of the greenhouse was well underway in May 2022


The greenhouse has been the centre for experimenting new practices in the nursery with one native tree species, Harungana madagascariensis. For growing seedlings, containers have been used instead of plastic bags/polybags. They are reusable, easier to fill and require less manual work. The cost of restoration will be considerably reduced in the long term. They are also favourable for the development of roots. Containers are cone-shaped tubes that have vertical lines on their sides to guide the downward growth of roots. There are several types of tubes of different volume, of which the USFS and Mitsinjo have chosen two, D27 and D40.

Before sowing, the seeds of H. madagascariensis collected from the forest have been manipulated to accelerate their germination. This has brought good results, for the germination time has shortened from four months to 20 days. Part of the seeds have been sown directly into containers, in which they grow until transplantation. The other seeds have first germinated in a sprouter before replanting. With both planting techniques, Mitsinjo’s team has used two different fertilisers. Some plants have been given Osmocote, the others have got Guanomad. Both contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium – nutrients that are important for the development of seedlings. Osmocote gradually releases its nutrients over six months, whereas Guanomad releases the nutrients at the same time and is quickly absorbed by plants. Some of the seedlings fertilised with Osmocote will be used in an experiment in the restoration site. They will be planted in holes that have VAM at the bottom. The other seedlings will be used for this year’s restoration activity.

IMG_20230111_104139315Seedlings of H. madagascariensis growing in D27 containers.
Plants in this block have been fertilised with Osmocote

Mitsinjo has always been doing regular monitoring both in the nurseries and in the restoration sites following the health of seedlings, but collaboration with the USFS has brought new, additional practices. The quality of tap water given to the plants and the availability of nutrients is verified by doing tests with a pH metre and an EC metre. After watering, the containers are weighed using block weight method to check the quantity of water given to the seedlings. The aim of all these practices is to improve the resilience of the plants in the face of climate change and to promote success in forest restoration. Hajanirina RAZAFIMANDIMBY, USFS regional focal point for Alaotra-Mangoro is supporting the team in its work.

IMG_0425Haja is giving a training in the new practices


Work in the greenhouse


Outside the greenhouse, Mitsinjo is producing plants with their habitual methods. Wild seedlings of different native tree species collected from the forest have been replanted in polybags with VAM as fertiliser. Like the containers in the greenhouse, the polybags have been placed in plant beds. The bamboo canes above them are used to regulate the degree of sunlight reaching the plants. During dry periods, seedlings are watered when necessary.

20220315_100604Replanting wild seedlings

In last January, the six organisations of the 2021 webinar were reunited in a workshop in Andasibe to exchange their experiences. During the first two days, the USFS, the Silo National des Graines Forestières (SNGF), the University of Antananarivo, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Madagascar Voakajy, Madagascar National Park Menabe and Mitsinjo gave each a presentation of their activities. The second day started with a visit to Mitsinjo’s nursery to see the results brought about by the new techniques of seedling production. This visit offered the participants an opportunity to pose questions to Mitsinjo’s team and to the USFS personnel. Besides Hajanirina Razafimandimby, members of the USFS Madagascar team and Karma Bouazza, a restoration specialist from USFS Lebanon were present. In the afternoon, Karma gave a training on the target plant concept. It defines what should be taken into account when planning a project – beginning from the project objectives to the planting tool (container/polybag) used in the nursery, – because they impact the results of restoration.

20230125_084135In January, the greenhouse was full of well-growing seedlings

Youssouf and Divana show how the quantity of water is checked


The last two days were reserved for a training given to the teams of MNP Menabe and Mitsinjo. On the third day of the workshop, they first went to see the restoration site on the southwestern border of the Analamazaotra Forest Station, where Mitsinjo would plant seedlings this year. Members of Mitsinjo and people from a nearby community were already clearing the area to make space for planting. There was first discussion about the prevailing conditions and Mitsinjo’s usual methods. Then, Karma gave a demonstration of monitoring during planting. She selected two of the seedlings Mitsinjo’s team had brought to the site. The container cones were different in size. Karma explained that the bigger cone was good for fast-growing and medium growth species and for seedlings with long roots to be planted into deep soil, while the smaller cone was suitable for seedlings planted in places where the soil was shallow. Karma planted the seedling with long roots in the upper part of the slope telling to the spectators what she was doing. She checked the proper planting depth, the extension of roots downwards and tamped the soil after planting to make sure that no air pockets were left. Lastly, Karma tugged the seedling gently to verify that it could not be uprooted. She also pointed out that vegetation should be cleared away from around the seedling, if not necessary to leave for giving shade and protection to the young plant. The other seedling was planted on the top of the mountain where the soil was shallower.



Back at the office, the program continued with an exercise in nursery practice comparison monitoring. Karma gave examples how Mitsinjo could form samples by making different combinations of planting methods, fertilisers and planting tools for comparing their impact on the results. Later, Karma repeated the checking list concerning monitoring during plantation. She also presented in further detail the recommendations for nursery practice comparison monitoring. A representative sample of each nursery practice should be tracked for success in outplanting survival and growth. This can be done by planting seedlings in blocks consisting of several rows, each representing one nursery practice. Information of every seedling (row number, tree number, nursery practice, height and diameter of root collar) is entered into a sample data collecting sheet, first during the initial planting on the site and then during subsequent monitoring, at which time survival of the seedling is checked. Remarks on mortality, damage or other things can also be made. Each tree and planted block is recorded on the ground and map to enable monitoring visits even many years later.

IMG_8966Example of forming samples

The workshop ended in a planning exercise. The teams of Mitsinjo and MNP Menabe were asked to define their objectives for tree nurseries, restoration and communities during this year and the following two years. In 2023-2025, Mitsinjo plans to produce 70,000 seedlings in containers. 10,000 of them will be used every year for restoring 10 hectares, 1,000 seedlings per one hectare. Osmocote will be used as fertiliser along with VAM. The conditions prevailing in the restoration sites will be identified as well for defining the species and categories of trees to be produced. Considering communities, people living in the villages surrounding the restoration site are taken into account as in all projects implemented by Mitsinjo. Fifteen planters and five seed collectors will be employed annually.

20230127_143634Mitsinjo’s team discussing objectives
Sitting: André nurseryman, Youssouf technical manager, Nasoavina project manager
Standing: Riphin nursery assistant, Eric nurseryman, Njara nursery assistant,
Fathima nursery assistant and Gervais assistant manager. Divana, who is missing
from the photo, also works as assistant in the nursery.

Transplantations in the restoration site started soon after the workshop and still continue. Monitoring will be done regularly. Learning from the encountered problems and improving skills is also important. Sharing challenges and successes of this work with other organisations in the future would be fruitful for all parties.

Photos: Hajanirina Razafimandimby, Ulla Aitakangas


Protecting wetlands, protecting our future

The World Wetland Day was celebrated on 2 January 2023. In Madagascar, the national event took place in the Torotorofotsy Ramsar site in Andasibe. It was also the day for the official opening of the annual reforestation campaign in the Alaotra-Mangoro region. Thus, there were participants even from other parts of the country, invited by Asity, the manager of the Ramsar site. Representatives of associations and organisations working in the environmental sector had come to Torotorofotsy to do their share. In addition to Mrs Marie-Orléa VINA, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, many officials of the Ministry and of all other sectors of administration from national to local level were present, the Governor of the Alaotra-Mangoro region and the Member of Parliament of the Moramanga district included. Naturally, local inhabitants arrived in great numbers to participate in the planting, too.


At the request of the Ministry, Mitsinjo helped in the arrangements of the day. Our contribution was essential. Our Tontolo maitso project provided the 4000 seedlings planted during the event.

Moreover, our environmental education team had prepared program with a group of children from the public primary school of Menalamba. They presented sketches and poems about environmental issues. They also gave a theatre performance on deforestation and climate change. As usual, there were competitions especially for children and youth.

IMG_20230202_122949The text in the T-shirts declares: “For every child, a healthy environment”.

After the event in Torotorofotsy was over, there was a luncheon at Mitsinjo’s premises in Ankaizinina, Andasibe. 150 guests (representatives of organisations and administration) enjoyed the meal offered by the Ministry.

Photos: Iréne Toutoune RAMANANTENASOA, responsible for environmental education/Mitsinjo

The donation campaign of the Conservation Allies is going on

Would you give a Cristmas gift to Mitsinjo by making a donation through Conservation Allies or spread word about the campaign? It is not too late participate. There are still 8 days left.

We have used the donations from last year’s campaign for patrolling in two different areas, namely in the Analamazaotra Forest Station a.k.a Mitsinjo Park and in Torotorofotsy Ramsar site. In Torotorofotsy, we have patrolled together with Asity MADAGASCAR, the manager of the wetland.

You can make your donation here https://www.conservationallies.org/partner/mitsinjo/

Thank you!

It’s donation time

The World Lemur Day and the World Lemur Festival 2022 were celebrated during the past month of October in Madagascar and in many other countries. Various events to highlight the importance of protecting lemurs will also be organised in the weeks to come.

In support of the work done by their Malagasy partners, Conservation Allies are matching donations up to $10.000 each for Association Mitsinjo and 12 other member organisations of the Lemur Conservation Network through the end of the year.

In addition to 10 other lemur species, indris, diademed sifakas, black-and-white ruffed lemurs, greater bamboo lemurs – all four of them critically endangered species- are still living in and around Andasibe. It is thanks to the research done by our team that the greater bamboo lemur was rediscovered in 2007 in Torotorofotsy where it was thought extinct before.

Association Mitsinjo has always aimed at restoring and preserving the forests where it works, not only by patrolling but also by doing environmental education and implementing sustainable development projects. We are now continuing the monitoring of the greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus) and the black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata) in Torotorofotsy and in Ihofa, a wide forest north-east of the Ramsar site. The objective is that after four years of regular survey the number of all groups and individuals of the two species will be known. Monitoring will be done to keep track of the annual growth of the number of individuals and their behaviour will be observed. The habitat of the animals will also be monitored to see its quality and development.

Greater Bamboo Lemur

Greater bamboo lemur

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Conservation Allies charges no overhead fees or administration costs
All donations made from the United states are fully tax-deductible

Thank you for the support!

Learning the theory and practice of the utilisation of VAM with Mitsinjo

Dissemination of knowledge and sharing of experiences and best practices in forest restoration form an essential part of the Manondroala 2 project. A workshop on dry and humid forests had been organised by FANC and Association Manondroala in Mahajanga in October 2019. The next workshop had been planned for the year 2020, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it had to be cancelled. In last October, Association Manondroala and Mitsinjo could finally welcome participants to a three day training on Vesicular Arbuscular Mycorrhiza (VAM) and its utilisation in Andasibe.

The first day was dedicated to presentations. All participants introduced themselves and their organisations. Christin NASOAVINA, Mitsinjo’s president and the local coordinator of the Manondroala 2 project, welcomed the guests. He also told about the history of Mitsinjo as well as about the activities and achievements. Angela TARIMY, the national coordinator of the project, made a review of the Manondroala projects and shortly presented FANC’s objectives and activities. She gave basic information on Finland as well.

20211013_111612Guests and hosts

Most of our guests came from Mahajanga. They represented four organisations and other actors working in dry deciduous forests and mangroves of western Madagascar. The University of Mahajanga has a botanical garden for educational purposes at the campus where they have planted trees given by the Eden Reforestation Projects. This cooperation is one of the outcomes of networking as part of the Manondroala 2 project. The University also manages the dry forest of Mandravasarotra, an area of 47 ha in Antsanitia. 200 different plant species are growing there and the University is committed to protecting them.

The National Museum of Natural History of Paris (MNHN) and the Association Antrema Miray (AMI) comanage the Antrema biocultural site in Katsepy, Mahajanga. The surface area is 20660 ha including a marine reserve of 1000 ha. The site is also protected under the Ramsar convention. MNHN and AMI have various treatment methods of improving the germination of the seeds they are using for growing trees. In addition to restoration, the local Sakalava traditions promote the protection of environment. Mr Noery from Antrema Miray told us about a belief held by the Sakalava. They consider crowned sifakas (Propithecus coronatus) as representatives of their ancestors. Therefore these lemurs are sacred. It is fady (forbidden, taboo) to kill them.

The fourth organisation from Mahajanga was PAGEII/GIZ (Programme d’Appui à la Gestion de l’Environnement). They are implementing a program of sustainable exploitation of natural resources. They have already restored 800 ha of mangroves and 10 ha of landscape destroyed by mining activities. Acacia trees have been planted on 20 ha in the forest station of Marohoga. In last October, PAGEII/GIZ was preparing reforestation with honey plants and moringa. They were also planning management of cashew trees.

20211013_090303The workshop offered an opportunity to test the educational material
that Mitsinjo had prepared with help from FANC and Association Manondroala

Our guest from Antananarivo represented BNCCREDD+ (le Bureau National de Coordination du Changement Climatique, du Carbone et de la REDD+). Mr Ravoninjatovo showed us detailed figures of the development of Madagascar’s forest cover in 2000-2019. He also told about the plans for implementing REDD+ programs (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) of carbon sequestration and trade.

Apart from Mitsinjo, two other actors from Andasibe participated in the workshop. One of them was V.O.I. MMA, an association formed by local guides. They manage a community park and have been collaborating with Mitsinjo for years. The other was a private initiative that has recently started working in Anevoka, a village situated about 9 km from Andasibe.

Every presentation engendered a lively conversation about the subject. Other participants were interested in knowing more and made a lot of questions.

In the afternoon, it was time to focus on the main theme of the workshop and begin the training. The floor was given to Youssouf, Mitsinjo’s VAM expert and restoration specialist. As most participants were unfamiliar with Vesicular Arbuscular Mycorrhiza, he explained first the differences between types of fungi and described the role of mycelium for the plants. The symbiosis formed by endomycorrhizal fungi with plants is profitable for both parties. In Mitsinjo’s nursery, the use of VAM has considerably increased the survival rate of seedlings. After having explained the theoretical basis of the Vesicular Arbuscular Mycorrhiza, Youssouf presented the process of VAM production step by step with the help of images. Precise practical instructions would be given during the next two days.

20211013_163745Youssouf explaining the significance of mycorrhiza

The following morning, the training continued at the expertise centre in Farahevitra. At first, it was the turn of the guests to give feedback on the previous day. They were very satisfied, but wanted to know even more. Thus, many questions were asked again. When the conversation was over, Angela presented the expertise trail created by Mitsinjo, explaining how the sites along the trail had been restored. The participants would see some sites later during the day. Before that, Youssouf introduced the tree nursery to them. They heard about the principles and methods Mitsinjo follows in restoration, beginning from the selection of the species to be grown. Youssouf also explained the purpose and functioning of the dry toilet standing in the nursery. The toilet was built during the Manondroala 1 project with the idea to promote improved sanitation in Andasibe by familiarising villagers with the use of toilet and by encouraging them to end open defecation. Secondly, it was planned that the composted excreta would be utilised as fertilizer in the nursery and the urine would have made a natural repellent against harmful insects. Because of unexpected events and adversities, Mitsinjo has not been able to realise the plan. During this year 2022, measures will be taken to secure the use of the toilet.

20211014_090200Our guests were very interested in the dry toilet

20211014_091230Feedback conversation at the expertise centre

From the nursery, the group moved to the nearest restored site on the trail, where Youssouf showed with the conservation team how to collect mycorrhiza for the production of VAM. Given the opportunity, several participants wanted to try themselves. Following the example, they looked for spots where to dig. The roots they unearthed were collected and saved for later use. After this practical exercise, the team led the way to three other restored sites that were relevant for the training. Nasoavina and Youssouf told about the history of each site as well as about the techniques used, lessons learnt and strategy for the future. The walk ended at Mitsinjo’s office where lunch was already waiting.

20211014_100601Looking for roots with mycorrhiza

IMG_8154Studying mushrooms with Nasoavina

After the break, the training was resumed in Farahevitra. First, the experiences of the morning were discussed. Next, the training proceeded to a practical exercise of VAM production. Mr Tamby from MNHN/AMI volunteered and performed the initial steps of the production. The nursery team had dug a hole for the purpose in one corner of the nursery. Mr Tamby lined the hole with plastic bags, added previously made VAM and fertile soil on the bottom, spread seeds of rice and beans that had been soaking in water for 24 hours and covered them with a layer of fertile soil. Then he watered the surface to make it moist and put straws on the top as protection against the sun and to keep the humidity. All the while, Youssouf observed the performance and explained to other participants who were taking notes and watching attentively.

The nursery team had also prepared other VAM holes to show different stages of the production. In one hole, rice and beans were growing leaves and mycorrhiza was visible among the roots. In the second hole, VAM was ready for the last step. The plants had been growing for three months, so it was time to cut them. Again, Mr Tamby made the exercise, now accompanied by Youssouf. Leaves and roots were cut into small pieces, put back into the hole with previously made VAM and covered with straws. After ten days, the new VAM would be ready for use.

20211014_144935The plastic bags prevent the roots of the growing
beans and rice
from reaching the ground

20211014_153536The plants are ready to be cut

Another exercise dealt with the technique of using VAM in the planting of seedlings. Youssouf first explained and planted a seedling into a plastic pot. Mr Tamby followed his example. The other participants were watching with interest. A long conversation ensued, going on until hot drinks and pastry were served to finish the day.

A recapitulation made by Angela opened the training on the third morning. Youssouf had a feedback conversation with the participants about the previous day. During the conversation, a journalist from the National Television of Madagascar (TVM) interviewed Angela and Nasoavina as well as the representatives of the University of Mahajanga, Prof. Vololomboahangy RANDRIANJAFY and Dr Botovao Auguste RAMIANDRISOA. The journalist had joined us in the morning and documented on video what was happening in Farahevitra. After the feedback, Youssouf presented the three VAM holes to the camera. The seeds that had been sown the day before showed already signs of germination.

Angela_interviewedAngela is being interviewed

20211015_095506Youssouf presenting the hole with cut leaves and roots

There was still one exercise. Together with Mr Tamby, Ms Baomelina from AMI and Mr Ramiandrisoa, Youssouf gave a demonstration of the plantation of seedlings in plastic pots. They would be later moved to a seedbed to continue their growth. To leave a memory of the training, participants then moved to plant other seedlings on the nearest restoration site. The journalist recorded the planting event before leaving us. Parts of the day’s video were broadcasted by TVM News on October 19, 2021.

The workshop continued at Mitsinjo’s office. Angela wrote down the plans the participants had for utilising the VAM technique and for sharing their experiences. Lastly, the guests were asked to evaluate the training and the general organisation of the workshop. The answers were flattering. The participants were very satisfied with everything. Distribution of certificates officially ended the workshop.



Exercise of the use of VAM

20211015_102402Making memories


However, there was still program for the afternoon. Our guests had expressed a wish to see Mitsinjo’s activities in Torotorofotsy. Thus, two cars took us to Menalamba, where Mitsinjo has a building for local meetings and other gatherings. From Menalamba we walked to Maromahatsinjo, a nearby hamlet with a view to the Torotorofotsy wetland. Our hosts told about the threats the area is facing and Mitsinjo’s work to save and protect it. After the visit, we took the road back towards Andasibe. On the way, we stopped at the tree nursery in Sahaparasy to have a look at the seedlings and learn about the activities from Youssouf. Then it was time to return and have dinner. It was already dark as we arrived. The day had been long but very interesting.

20211015_162827The core of the Torotorofotsy wetland lies behind the rice fields

20211015_172917At Sahaparasy tree nursery

Photos: Ulla Aitakangas

Originally published in the Manondroala blog of the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation – FANC

Help us protect biological diversity

If you have ever considered donating to Association Mitsinjo, now is the right time to do it. Conservation Allies will match donations made through the end of the year. Conservation Allies also offers a platform to make safe and easy US tax-deductible donations.

Give today and double your impact!

20201003_093510_BWould you help us to protect this Indri and its habitat?

The funds will be used for continuing patrolling in the forest to reduce the human impact caused by illicit activities such as tree cutting or collection of firewood. Many people who stayed away from the protected areas before the Covid-19 pandemic, have returned to their old habits. With the disappearance of tourists, forests were left empty and quiet and the risk of getting caught in the act decreased. Consequently, Mitsinjo has taken steps to stop the negative trend.

20211204_080516The diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema) has come back to Mitsinjo Park

The patrols watch for traces of fire to prevent wildfires. Our teams also monitor, if there are people who set traps for the animals. By frequent and regular patrolling, Mitsinjo aims to prevent these people from entering the protected area and to secure the survival of the lemur populations and the preservation of their home.

Donate here

Thank you for your support!

20211204_110923A male paradise flycatcher in its nest

Golden mantella habitats identified and restored in Torotorofotsy

Mitsinjo had a pleasant surprise early this year. Our partner FANC (Finnish Association for Nature Conservation) had received two donations – one from the Korkeasaari Zoo in Helsinki, Finland and the other from an American lady – to be used for the conservation of environment in Madagascar. FANC asked us to present good ideas for protecting the golden mantella (Mantella aurantiaca). We did not waste time, but began to elaborate a proposal for a small project to conserve and restore the natural habitat of this endangered amphibian species in Torotorofotsy. FANC’s coordinators were very pleased with our idea and as soon as Asity, the manager of the Torotorofotsy Ramsar site, had shown us green light, we started to make preparations for launching the project. It also meant good news to our members. Half of them are guides and many have been without regular income since March 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic arrived closing the borders. We were now able to help them a little by offering them work during some months.

At the end of February, we were ready to go ahead with the activities. Before the teams were sent to the field, Youssouf, our conservation manager gave a short training and explained what was to be done. He also accompanied the teams in Torotorofotsy during the initial phases. The first step was to collect information for identifying the habitats of Mantella aurantiaca. Six teams went to villages around Torotorofotsy to interview local people. They mentioned 11 different sites where the golden mantella had been seen and was living before.

Mant_interviewAn interview in Berano (photo by Youssouf)

At the beginning of March, another team continued by verifying the correctness of the received data. The team was divided in groups. The first group checked, if there were any signs of golden mantellas on the sites. In case croaks were heard or frogs were seen, the second group was sent to the site to make a more profound survey.


Observation of frog behaviour in Antsampanandratsy.
See a big vakona behind the team (photo by Youssouf)

The group went to Torotorofotsy early in the morning and spent a few hours observing the behaviour of the frogs. Attention was also paid to their general condition, how they were breathing and how vigorous and long their jumps were. Verification and observation done, it could be confirmed that two sites were current habitats. In Antandrokivanga, the team heard vocalizations made by mantellas, but no frogs were sighted. On the other hand, in Antsampanandratsy, seven indivuals – males, females and juveniles – were met.

The team also saw signs of illegal gold mining. Six pits left by diggers were found in Antsampanandratsy. In one pit, a golden mantella and a woolly lemur were lying dead. After the identification, the GPS coordinates of the two sites and the location of the pits were taken for the next phase of the project.

One of the deepest pits

In April, two teams returned to Torotorofotsy to start the restoration of the site in Antsampanandratsy. The first thing to do was to fill the pits to prevent them from posing further a risk to animals. Some excavations contained a lot of water and in one of them, the team noticed a tree frog of Boophis species that was alive. Fortunately, they managed to lift it out of the pit.


20210408_100430The holes were filled with the sand that had been dug out by the miners

At the beginning of May, the restoration was completed. The filled pits were covered with vegetation. Youssouf joined the team and showed plants that were good for enriching the variety. Aquatic plants such as various ferns as well as two seedlings of 20210507_111153Pandanus species (Vakona fandrana) were planted on every covered hole. 20210508_100435The pandans had been brought from Mitsinjo’s tree nursery in Menalamba, but the other plants were collected in Antsampanandratsy near the pits. Many tree frogs consider vakonas good places for reproduction. There is an empty space between the leaves of the trees where water collects. Frogs like to lay their eggs in this pool, as it also offers shelter for the development of larvae and tadpoles. A few plants of Dracaena species (dragon trees) were also added on some pits. At each hole, the team wrote down in a notebook the names and the number of the planted species

20210507_111610A newly planted vakona and a Malagasy climbing rain frog (Plethodontohyla mihanika),
a terrestrial species that appeared on the spot while the team was working there.

20210507_121900The planting team with Youssouf (on the right)

The last phase of the project was to delimit the two sites. The exact GPS coordinates were defined for drawing a map showing their locations. In Antsampanandratsy, the team met a female golden mantella. It had a beautiful colour and it was in good shape. In Antandrokivanga, calls of mantella were heard, but even this time, the frogs remained hidden from view.

M_aurantiacaA female golden mantella in Antsampanandratsy (photo by Youssouf)

The project has ended, but we would like to continue and increase the number of protected habitats. We already have a new activity plan that we would carry out in close cooperation with Asity and local communities, if there were funds for this purpose. The project would also include regular monitoring and patrolling of the habitats to diminish the pressure and threats on them and on the golden mantella in order to secure its survival.

Photos: Youssouf, Ulla Aitakangas


ABC of forest restoration- how to produce VAM

In accordance with the Manondroala 2 project plan, Mitsinjo’s partner FANC has produced a video about our techniques. An essential part of the video describes in detail the production of VAM and its significance to our work in restoration. The film was shot in last September in close collaboration with our team and was presented to the public for the first time on 13 February 2021 on the channel of Madagascar’s national television TVM.

Now FANC has published the video on their YouTube channel. We are pleased to share it with you.

You can also find on YouTube a shorter version of the video that focuses on VAM production.

Further educational material on our best practices will be available later this year. Stay tuned!

Want to learn about the restoration of tropical humid forests? – Get a training from Mitsinjo

In the midst of the global pandemic, the important work for reforestation, biodiversity and sustainable agriculture in Madagascar by Association Mitsinjo and Association Manondroala1 (FANC Madagascar until1st June 2021) continues apace. Together the staff of our two organizations form a pool of scientific knowledge combined with local insight and long experience. We are now developing a training that will present the methods of reforestation used by Mitsinjo. The training is part of the Manondroala 2 project which was started in 2019 and continues our cooperation with the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation – FANC.

Whether university students or teachers, researchers, local restoration teams, NGOs, forest specialists or professionals working in administration, Malagasy or foreigners, we welcome you all to Andasibe. Even tourists and other interested groups of visitors can profit from the training.

The duration and the program of the training can be tailored according to the needs of the participants to last from one to several days. Teaching will take place in the Farahevitra tree nursery and at its expertise centre as well as in the surrounding Mitsinjo Park. During your visit, you will learn how we combine theory and practice. You will have an opportunity for example

– to hear about the use of biological pesticides and soil fungus extract. We inoculate the seedlings with the Vesicular Arbuscular Mycorrhiza (VAM) which protects the young plants from diseases and harmful insects. Thanks to our methods, the mortality of seedlings is only 5 %. The VAM also helps trees grow more quickly and defends them against the drought.


Rice and beans grow together with mycorrhiza that has been collected from the forest. After three months, the VAM is ready for use.

– to see the great diversity of the endemic tree species we use in forest restoration. The trees are divided into three categories according to their height and speed of growth. When choosing species to be planted at a certain site, we have to take into account the conditions in which the species grow naturally. The seedlings must also represent all three categories.

to make an excursion to the educational reforestation trail near the centre. Our team will guide you through restoration sites of different tree planting periods in Mitsinjo forest. There will be examples of stages of succession along the trail. You will also see the effects of different techniques on the results at each site.


Even more than 100 different species are being produced by Mitsinjo in its nurseries

One of your trainers will be Youssouf. He is paraecologist and one of Mitsinjo’s founding members. He has studied forestry, agroforestry and botany and has worked in many research projects e.g. for the Malagasy Ministry of Environment. He was in charge of starting the Mitsinjo tree nursery and is still managing it. Youssouf is also the manager of two nurseries in Torotorofotsy where Mitsinjo is running other projects. During the years, he has gained a huge amount of experience and has developed Mitsinjo’s methods to the excellent level the association is so famous for. Along with his expertise in ecology, awareness raising and environmental education have been part of Youssouf’s work in conservation. All of his competence combines in his work today as one of our certified guides and as the restoration specialist of the Manondroala 2 project. Youssouf will be pleased to share his know-how with you.


Youssouf examining a nursery managed by local inhabitants in Menalamba, Torotorofotsy


Conservation Manager
Association Mitsinjo
+261 34 17 632 44

Angela Tarimy
National Coordinator of the Manondroala 2 project
Association Manondroala
+ 261 34 01 972 97

1Registered in 2016, Association Manondroala is a Malagasy non-governmental organization that focuses on developing a network of conservationists, on forest mapping, monitoring and restoration, nature conservation and community development. Association Manondroala works closely with FANC Finland, the Ministry of Environment of Madagascar and the University of Antananarivo. It is the representative of FANC’s projects in Madagascar.

Green day in Farahevitra

It was warm and sunny early in the morning on Friday 17 January 2020. Soon after 8 o’clock a small group of members from Mitsinjo and other organisations gathered to make preparations for the day’s event. At first, a banner was put up at the beginning of the road leading to Farahevitra to show the way. Next, we proceeded to the actual venue. An area had been cleared for tree planting in Mitsinjo’s forest close to the Farahevitra tree nursery. More banners were unfurled on the border of the glade and a sign presented by Ambatovy was erected as a memory of this day.


Little by little, participants began to assemble to wait for the starting of the action. Alliance Voahary Gasy, the platform of civil society organisations working for the Malagasy environment, had asked regional member organisations to celebrate with it the 10 years of AVG’s existence. In addition to Mitsinjo, members from GERP – Groupe d’étude et de recherche sur les primates de Madagascar, ASITY, SAF FJKM, ANAE – Association Nationale d’Actions Environnementales and ACCE arrived. Mitsinjo, for their turn, had invited V.O.I.M.M.A and Projects Abroad Madagascar who operate in Andasibe. In total, 73 people participated in the event.



Volunteers of Projects Abroad


We need seedlings!








When all had come, the real business started. The party spread out around the clearing to search places for the saplings. Members of Mitsinjo assisted in the digging of holes and carried seedlings to other planters. The participants were so industrious that more seedlings had to be brought from the nursery. Soon they were moving in chain from Mitsinjo’s car to the planters. After the work was finished, 500 endemic trees had been given a new habitat. As member organisation of Alliance Voahary Gasy, Mitsinjo will take care of the follow-up and maintenance of their growth.


Staff from Mitsinjo’s frog breeding centre


Lucie RAZAFINDRAMIADANA, Mitsinjo’s Vice President












The event was not arranged only to dignify the work AVG has done since 2009. It was also an expression of support to the national reforestation campaign that was officially launched on 19 January 2020. President Andry Rajoelina has set the target of planting 60 million trees by 26 June 2020 to mark the 60th anniversary of Madagascar’s independence and he has encouraged all citizens to do their share for the protection of the environment. This campaign is part of an ambitious reforestation program declared by Rajoelina in 2019. It aims at planting trees and seeds across 40 000 hectares annually during five years. The purpose is – no more, no less – to make Madagascar a green island again. Ndranto Razakamanarina, President of Alliance Voahary Gasy, referred to this goal in his closing speech noting it was praiseworthy. He further pointed out that the existing laws should be applied in order to prevent forests from being cleared, as Madagascar is losing every year 100 000 hectares of natural forest. Complementary measures of sustainable development are also required. They include, among other things, the implementation of concrete activities that guarantee the socioeconomic development of the southern parts of Madagascar to avoid migration.


Ndranto RAZAKAMANARINA, President of Alliance Voahary Gasy


Youssouf, Mitsinjo’s Conservation Manager explains the work of the association to AVG’s President and Vice President







The weather favoured the gathering. The morning was nice and warm, even hot. The sun was still shining at noon, when the participants were preparing to leave, but a half an hour later a thunder storm already broke out and it began to rain heavily. The newly planted seedlings got their first watering. One could say that the timing was perfect.


Photos: Tianasoa RATOLOJANAHARY, Ulla Aitakangas