The zoo is a sponsoring member of the Madagascar Fauna Group
. This means we sponsor the costs of one of the MFG’s many projects. The IOW Zoo-sponsored project is an Agroforestry station that is used to teach local people methods of farming that are more sustainable than the 'slash and burn’ technique they currently utilise.
'Slash and burn’ agriculture has been responsible for the loss of more than 90% of Madagascar’s natural vegetation. The resulting loss of habitat has led to more than 450 species becoming officially endangered.
The Agroforestry Station includes multiple plots demonstrating alternative crops, soil fertility management techniques, erosion control, mixed crop planting strategies and more. An expansive area is dedicated to demonstrating SRI (System of Rice Intensification) rice production techniques, a subject that has been incorporated into Ivoloina’s Saturday School Program in addition to adult education initiatives. Tree nurseries show propagation methods for commercial and native tree species; a medicinal garden was recently completed. Additional income-generating enterprises such as vanilla production and bee- keeping practices are demonstrated. Large illustrated graphic panels explaining specific techniques or concepts are written in Malagasy.
The model station has proven to be a valuable and popular community resource used by farmers, teachers, university professors, civic groups and political leaders. A three person staff whose duties include maintaining the entire facility and participating in training activities run the model station. The role of the model station will be further expanded with the MFG/University of Tamatave partnership to develop an eco-agriculture degree and training program.