Afforestation, Land Tenure and Environmental Legislation in Madagascar

by Alain Bertrand


This combination of three short papers discusses afforestation, land tenure, and environmnetal legislation in Madagascar. The first paper argues that eucalyptus, though not indigenous to Madagscar, has historically been a valuable income-generating crop through the urban fuel wood market, and a key strategy in asserting claims to property rights. The combination of tenurial and commercial motivations explains the persistence of this dynamic of peasant plantations for a century. The second piece on tenure insecurity argues that ultimately the state has been poor at formal land tenure immatriculation. Traditional, community-based tenure systems still dominate, yet their legitimacy is challenged by the overly complex legal rules. Ultimately, the failure to maintain land tenure security has been one of the primary stumbling blocks to development. This failure is part of the same failure of the state to effectively engage the rural citizenry in a participatory process of conservation. The final paper outlines in detail the GELOSE legislation and program, which aims to devolve management of renewable resources to local communities . This program is funded by the World Bank, French Aid, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Moving beyond a participatory approach to conservation, GELOSE focuses on a contractual approach whereby local communities gain the rights and responsibilities of local resource management through formal legal contracts with the national government and other stakeholders.

Alain Bertrand
Programme “Forets naturelles”
Campus de Baillarguet, Montpellier