Landscape architect Grant Associates has teamed up with Bristol Zoological Society (BZS), the Richard Feilden Foundation (RFF), and fellow Bath-based architect Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBStudios), in a project to save Madagascar’s critically endangered wildlife, including the blue-eyed black lemur, and its forest habitat.
Grant Associates will help BZS to develop its existing field research centre and eco-tourist camp in Ankarafa Forest in Sahamalaza Peninsula, part of Radama National Park.
This north western part of Madagascar is one of the most biodiverse on earth and lies within an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
The team wants to protect the forest from deforestation, while helping to secure the future livelihood of its people.
As part of Grant Associates’ 20th anniversary celebrations, the project will see the landscape architect invest funds and time to improve Ankarafa’s existing field research facility and develop a strategy for the future management of the forest.
Plans for the new research centre involve creating a permanent, weather-proof facility that can accommodate up to 20 scientists and students from the Malagasy and wider, international conservation research community. The complex will have a laboratory, office, sleeping, dining and living quarters, and a kitchen.
Proposals for the eco-tourist camp – which is located near the research station – include expanding its present capacity to 20 guests, creating a classroom for workshops and talks, and installing raised walkways to deal with mud in the rainy season.
The team has already surveyed the site and designs for the centre and camp complex are being created in consultation with BZS, which manages the existing facilities in partnership with AEECL (Association Européenne pour l’Étude et la Conservation des Lémuriens, a cooperative of 30 European zoos working to safeguard Madagascar’s lemurs).
It hopes that the new facilities will attract a more scientists, students and eco-tourists, creating local employment opportunities and building economic value.
Additionally, the team aims to improve road access to Ankarafa Forest and virtual access, using Virtual Reality videos.
Andrew Grant, founder and director at Grant Associates, said: “We have always based our approach on better connecting people and nature and wanted to mark our 20th anniversary with an international project that makes a significant contribution to global conservation and would capture the imagination of everyone who learned of it. The Ankarafa Forest project by BZS provides the perfect collaboration, not least because it marries the conservation of unique local wildlife with an improved economy for local people.”
He added: “Together with BZS, the AEECL and with the valued input of FCBStudios as architects, we believe the creation of an improved field station at the heart of the Ankarafa Forest, along with its associated eco-tourist project and the participation of local communities, will make a serious contribution to secure the future of wildlife and livelihood of local villagers in the Sahamalaza Peninsula.”