Award winner 2012
Location: Madagascar

Patricia Davis

Patricia Davis was one of the winners of the Future For Nature Award in 2012. When she was studying, she became inspired to commit her life to tropical marine conservation. She co-founded Community Centred Conservation (C3) and since 2009 has been working for the conservation of the endangered dugong in northern Madagascar. An interview with Patricia can be found here.

More about Patricia Davis

“I studied Zoology at Oxford University and then specialized in Environmental Management at James Cook University, Australia. It was there in northern Queensland, between the rainforest and Great Barrier Reef, that I was truly inspired to commit to a lifetime of tropical marine conservation. I went on to live and work in Palau, Micronesia, where I co-founded Community Centred Conservation (C3, Community Centred Conservation), a non-profit conservation organization focusing on community conservation challenges by bridging the gap between traditional knowledge and contemporary scientific research. Curiosity led me on to initiating projects in South-East Asia, the western Indian Ocean and the Red Sea”.

More about the project

“Since 2009 I have been working with my colleagues at C3 and partners in Madagascar National Parks and the University of Antsiranana to collect the first comprehensive dataset on the endangered dugong in northern Madagascar. This marine mammal is listed by IUCN as Vulnerable to extinction but in the western Indian Ocean it is in fact critically endangered, with the largest known population numbering only around 200 individuals off Mozambique. Our research pioneered rapid assessment techniques, subsequently adopted by the UNEP Convention on Migratory Species. We managed to interview over 600 fishers about the occurrence of dugongs, hunting and their accidental capture in fishing nets, and we mapped extensive seagrass beds on which dugongs depend for food. From our research we created hotspot maps which show the most important areas for conserving dugongs, where the frequency of sightings is highest and capture rates are also high. The area identified was within the Nosy Hara Marine Park, which is ideal since it is already theoretically under national protection.

Unfortunately, chronic underfunding and a lack of technical resources make it impossible for the Park authority to actively conserve this species. This is where our project comes in. We are looking at an innovative incentive-based conservation model through our Environmental Stewardship Project (ESP), which aims to sustain community enthusiasm and commitment to a number of marine conservation objectives, including dugong conservation. In essence, the community commit, through a Project Steering Committee and Conservation Ambassadors, to carrying out relevant conservation tasks and reducing or eliminating threats to endangered marine species and habitats. Their performance is monitored quarterly by our team and the Parks authority and if they have met their targets they receive investment in much needed community services, which include new freshwater well installation, provision of maternal healthcare, development of community ecotourism enterprise and development of current educational facilities.”

“Patricia assembled a multi-skilled group to study the area and design a plan for involving local communities in several fishery villages at Madagascar. Through this action, Patricia has shown her strong leadership ability. The idea of introducing environmental mortgages into the local poor communities linking them to the marine environment and species protection proved to be quite effective and can be replicated through the coastal communities of East Africa.” – 2012, Masha Vorontsova, International Selection Committee

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