Due to its isolation, the island has a rich biological diversity. In fact, Madagascar is a megadiverse country containing 5% of the world's biodiversity on just 0.4% of the world's landmass [1]. The country is part of the Indo-Pacific Tropical Grass Bioregion [2] and has more than 5,000 kilometers of coastline that support valuable ecosystems such as coral reefs, coastal forests, mangroves and wetlands [3]. It encompasses a diversity of ecosystems, with a mountainous plateau extending throughout the center, bordered by low-lying coastal areas on all sides. In addition, the county’s ecosystems include multiple types of forests, savannah, steppes, rivers, lakes, drylands and reefs [4].

The coastal areas in Madagascar are composed of natural environments that are among the richest and most diversified in the Indian Ocean region, including extensive coral reef systems, mangroves, phanerogam seagrass beds, estuaries and coastal marshes [5].

Madagascar is home to high flora and fauna endemism and is one of 36 biodiversity hotspots with 15,000 plant species of which more than 12,000 are endemic. Furthermore, more than 80% of Madagascar natural flora and fauna are endemic [6]. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species of Fauna, Madagascar is home to 107 critically endangered species, 260 threatened species and 121 vulnerable species [6]. Madagascar's Strong endemism is therefore a priority for biodiversity conservation and one of the world’s highest-priority countries for conservation.

Biodiversity is declining in Madagascar with severe consequences. The country has lost more than 80% of its original forest cover, with primary forests covering only 12% of the country at present. However, the rate of deforestation has declined in the recent years. Coral reefs are also under increasing pressure, many of them degraded. In 2013, Madagascar had 166 critically endangered species, 290 endangered species, 11 extinct species and 476 vulnerable species [5].


The direct and indirect pressures on biodiversity are numerous and mainly of an anthropogenic nature. The main threats to Madagascar's biodiversity have remained the same for a long time. These are deforestation, habitat degradation, land and coastal erosion, and the decline of endemic species. Most often, these threats are compounded by increasing pressures on renewable and non-renewable resources, such as agriculture, forestry, mining, and other extractive industries (oil, gas), land use planning (transport, energy production and other industries, etc.) [6]. The main human caused pressures to biodiversity include destructive practices such as clearing of natural habitats (0.55% per year) and overexploitation of natural resources. In addition, hunting, bushmeat consumption, and illegal wildlife trade poses a major threat to species in Madagascar [7].

Additionally, 65% of Malagasy population lives in and on the country's coastal areas [8], resulting in additional pressures on ecosystems and forests destructions. Forests are home to over 80% of Madagascar's biodiversity [9], and one hectare of forest lost in Madagascar has a greater negative impact on global biodiversity than one hectare lost anywhere else on earth [10].

Recently, the intensifying impact of climate change poses a growing thread for biodiversity in Madagascar [11]. Rising sea levels and intensifying extreme weather events are causing the erosion of beaches and coastal ecosystems and the loss of biodiversity species in the country [11].


Key policies and governance approach

Madagascar has ratified several international environmental conventions referring to biodiversity to reduce pressures on its natural resources (Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar, UNCCD, CMS, CITES, etc.), which translated into national law [12] . Madagascar has been a party of Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing since 2014 and party of Cartagena Protocol since 2004. [13]

Madagascar's Environmental Charter, adopted in 1990 and amended in 2015, recommended the establishment of a legal framework for the conservation of biodiversity and the management of natural resources in Madagascar.

Madagascar ratified the Conservation of Biological Diversity (CBD) through Decree No. 95-695 in November 1995 and approved the following objectives: conserving biodiversity, using with sustainable and rational manner the biodiversity component, and sharing fairly and equitably the benefits arising from the genetic resources use [7].

In addition, to implement the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Targets, Madagascar has reviewed and updated its National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) to become an instrument national policy [11]. The NBSAP (2015-2025) which was developed by the Ministry of the Environment, Ecology, Forests, and the Sea presents guidelines and plans for actions to improve the state of Madagascar's biodiversity by 2025 [6]. Activities such as the restoration of at least 15% of degraded areas, the fight against desertification and the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol for sharing fair and equitable benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources are among the main activities proposed [11].

The policies and governance approach on the biodiversity sector highlights the commitments of Madagascar to address the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of natural ecosystems in the country.


Successes and remaining challenges

Madagascar acknowledges how precious its biodiversity is and has made great progress in preserving it in the recent years.  Around 7 million hectares, representing 11.9% of national territory is declared protected areas, as of May 2015 [14] . In addition, protected areas housing biodiversity conservation sites reached 7,099,000 ha in 2020 compared to 7,000,828 ha in 2016 (SDG 15). However, the rate of deforestation continues to stay high [15].

A notable success in the implementation of the NSSMB and the National Environmental Action Plan is the increase in protected areas from 3% in the past to about 8% of the country’s total area (4,751,895 ha) in 2009. The Humid Dense Forest of the East, composed of 6 national parks with a total area of about 479,661 ha, has been nominated as a World Heritage site. In addition, reforestation efforts have covered an area of 34,925 ha and, in 2008, the fight against bush fires resulted in a 75% reduction in burned areas compared to 2002 [5].

In the context of the effective implementation, management, and conservation of biodiversity in Madagascar, funding is limited, and its allocation is undiversified. The estimated cost of implementing the NBSAP is USD 203.20 million until 2025, a major part of which is the creation and management of protected areas, both terrestrial, marine, and coastal. To date, the Madagascar Biodiversity Fund has invested more than US $ 75 million for the benefit of the protected area system, but efforts and funding opportunities to diversify the country conservation actions towards unprotected areas are lacking [11].

Policy, legal and economic conditions that encourage further investments in improving tourism infrastructure around both protected and unprotected areas and payments for ecosystem services need to be developed. Management of biodiversity in Madagascar must ensure local people, who may bear costs from biodiversity degradation, are properly considered [16].


Initiatives and Development Plans

Madagascar intends to develop a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan implementation mechanism focused in four main areas: institutional arrangements; financing; information management and communication; and monitoring and evaluation. Examples of respective planned activities entail: the creation of a National Biodiversity Committee and Regional Units; the development of a Resource Mobilization Strategy; the strengthening of the national CHM network; and annual systematized monitoring and evaluation of implementation through established indicators, benchmarks and verification sources to refocus and prioritize interventions among others [4].

Madagascar is among the countries in the world that has turned its biodiversity into economic capital. Due to its richness and its mega-diversity, biodiversity capital has become very important for the country. Many species of flora and fauna are valued at the international trade level. Madagascar’s exports are growing steadily and are a source of income for local communities and operators working in the agriculture and biodiversity sector [11].

Recognizing the ecosystem services provided by biodiversity, Madagascar has set up carbon compensation to generate “carbon credits” whose revenues are returned to local communities [11].

The EU also supports Madagascars’ development plans and initiatives in the biodiversity sector. In 2021, the EU awarded a total value of EUR 684,461 to four organizations in Madagascar to address biodiversity conservation needs in line with national policy and  the priorities of Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MEDD) [17]. Through the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the projects funded conserve and restore services of biodiversity and ecosystem functions - in wetlands and forest areas across the country.


Goals and Ambitions

Madagascar has stated its biodiversity vision in its National Biodiversity and Action plans (2015-2025): ”A Malagasy people living in harmony in a country where the environment is preserved and / or restored, taking advantage for its welfare and sustainable use and enhancement and reasoned with rich and valued biodiversity, resilient to environmental change” [14] .

By 2025, Madagascar envisions that the measures defined in its NBSAP will effectively reduce the loss of biodiversity and ensure the provision of essential ecosystem services and the equitable sharing of the benefits of biodiversity, for the social well-being, economic and environmental development of current and future Malagasy population [11].


[1] USAID (2014).  Madagascar Environmental Threats and Opportunities Assessment.

[2] GEF (2021).  Protecting sea turtles and seagrass in Madagascar.


[4] The Republic of Madagascar (2014). " Fifth National Report To The Convention On National Biodiversity". 

[5] The Republic of Madagascar (2022). Convention on Biological Diversity Madagascar. 

[6] Combo (2021). MADAGASCAR.

[7] The Republic of Madagascar (2016). NATIONAL BIODIVERSITY AND ACTION PLANS 2015 – 2025. 

[8] GEF (2021).  Protecting sea turtles and seagrass in Madagascar.

[9] Waeber P. et al., (2018). Parks and Reserves in Madagascar: Managing Biodiversity for a Sustainable Future [Online]. Available:

[10] USAID (2014).  Madagascar Environmental Threats and Opportunities Assessment.

[11] The Republic of Madagascar, "National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans (2015-2025)," 2015. 

[12] [Online]. Available:

[13] Convention on Biological Diversity (2022). Madagascar - Main Details. 


[15] United Nations (2021). Madagascar Volountary National Review.

[16]  Republic of Madagascar, "Ivato Declaration: Conservation of Madagascar biodiversity," Antananarivo, 2019.   

[17] IUCN (2021).Protecting and restoring key habitats in Madagascar – contributing to global action to restore the Earth