Protecting the unique habitats
and cultures of islands worldwide
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November 2016 e-Newsletter
In This Issue: Seacology's 25th anniversaryMadagascar visitSeacology featured on Sri Lankan TV programTravel: PeruSave an Acre in Kenya on #GivingTuesdaySupport island conservation through your holiday shopping

Celebrating 25 years of Seacology's work

Seacology’s win-win model was born after the Samoan government gave the remote village of Falealupo an ultimatum: Build a new school or the village’s teachers would be relocated. Having no other source of income, the villagers would have to sell logging rights to their 30,000-acre forest.

Dr. Paul Cox, an ethnobotanist doing research in Samoa, heard about the situation. With the financial support of colleague Ken Murdock and others, and advocacy among the villagers from High Chief Fuiono Senio, Cox struck a creative bargain with Falealupo’s leaders and the Samoan government. The money was raised, the school was built, and the sale of the forest was rejected. Seacology was formally established as an international nonprofit in 1991. Cox and Senio were awarded the 1997 Goldman Environmental Prize for their innovative solution at Falealupo, and Cox and Murdock later hired former Goldman Fund director Duane Silverstein to manage their new conservation group.

A quarter-century later, the rainforest remains protected and its canopy walk—a bridge through the dense forest built in a subsequent Seacology project—has become a popular ecotoursim destination. Seacology has brought this model of mutual benefit to over 270 island communities in more than 50 countries around the world, conserving nearly 1.5 million acres of unique habitat and impacting the lives of countless islanders.
“As we met with the Sri Lankan President and members of Parliament to dedicate the new Seacology-funded mangrove museum, I thought of how far our conservation efforts have reached,” said Cox.

Murdock, who along with Cox still serves on Seacology’s Board of Directors, reflected on the cultural exchange he’s experienced through our work.

“Seacology has done much to assist with the needs of island communities. And in turn, the Seacology family—Board members, staff, and donors—has been deeply enriched and touched by each village and every experience with these wonderful people,” he said.

Seacology has continued to succeed and grow thanks to the commitment of you, our supporters. On behalf of all of those who have been helped by our work on the world’s islands, thank you, and here’s to the next 25!

Catching up in Madagascar

Madagascar, off Africa's southeastern coast, is a unique treasure of biodiversity. More than 80 percent of the plant and animal species found there exist nowhere else on earth, leading some to refer to the large island nation as the world's eighth continent. Seacology has been working with communities in the island nation since 1999.

Last month, Program Manager Mary Randolph visited the country to assess current projects and plan for future ones. She crisscrossed the country with Seacology field representative Erik Patel, a longtime lemur researcher. They met former Seacology Prize winner Rabary Desiré and leaders of several communities and environmental organizations.

Their journey began with staff from the Missouri Botanical Garden, a past Seacology partner, who took them to Ankafobe. MBG is working with local communities to protect a 50-hectare swath of forest from wildfires, a persistent threat across the dry country. The group also maintains a tree nursery, growing seedlings to replant in deforested areas despite the poor soil quality in the area.

Next up was Sainte Luce, on the country's southeast coast. The area is beset by widespread poverty and its remaining forest is degraded and fragmented due to illegal hardwood logging, but there are reasons for optimism. There, SEED Madagascar, another former project partner, is offering new opportunities to local people. Their efforts at Stitch Sainte Luce, which is training local women to make high-quality embroidered items for export, particularly stood out as a welcome sign of economic empowerment.

New species—plants, reptiles, amphibians, and possibly a new species of Madagascar's iconic lemurs—are constantly being discovered in the area. We're hopeful that these discoveries will lead to pressure for greater conservation.
Mary and Erik then explored the shores of Lac Alaotra, the country's largest lake, with a team from Madagascar Wildlife Conservation. In contrast to the arid climate of Ankafobe, the large shallow basin underpins Madagascar's agricultural center and provides a habitat for endemic species like the critically endangered bandro or Lac Alaotra gentle lemur. Rice plantations are extremely important to the Malagasy population—they consume more rice per capita than anyone else on earth—but the agricultural expansion threatens the lake's sensitive ecology. Deforestation, erosion, and sedimentation related to unsustainably managed rice fields have degraded the lake habitat. Illegal fishing and the lack of resources for enforcement also pose challenges for conservationists.

Finally, they checked in on an active Seacology project at Ambanja Bay, where we are working with the NGO Blue Ventures and the local community to fund an ecotourism camp and other infrastructure in exchange for the protection of 988 acres of mangrove forest. The area's abundant wildlife and proximity to the popular travel destination of Nosy Be make Ambanja Bay a promising ecotourism site.

Mary left Madagascar with a profound appreciation for its amazing biodiversity and people and new inspiration for our work there. We look forward to announcing new projects in the country in the near future, and invite you to see some of our favorite photos from this recent visit.

Mangrove project featured on Sri Lanka TV's 'Wasuliya'

Sri Lanka's current events show "Wasuliya" recently dedicated a segment to the country's mangroves and the unprecedented efforts to protect them. The 15-minute feature explains the importance of Sri Lanka's mangroves, looks at some of the species found among them, and offers viewers a virtual tour of the new Seacology-Sudeesa Mangrove Museum, which opened this summer. An English-language version can be seen at our YouTube channel.

Seacology Travel: Peru

August 5-15, 2017
Next summer, Seacology will lead our first-ever trip to Peru! We invite you to explore key sites of the Inca Empire with us, including Machu Piccu, the Sacred Valley, and more. We’ll also visit Foca Island, the location of our first project in Peru.

Learn more about the expedition in our brochure. Reservations are going fast for this trip, so don't hesitate if you're interested in joining us for this unforgettable excursion.

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Save An Acre  on #GivingTuesday

Save an acre of coral reef, and Seacology may have a gift for you! On #GivingTuesday, the international day of charitable giving, we'll be inviting our supporters to help us save an acre of coral reef off Kenya's Wasini island for just $40. This year #GivingTuesday donors will be entered into a contest to receive a one-of-a-kind handicraft from our project partners at Mkwiro village! Simply make a Save An Acre donation any time on Tuesday, November 29.

#GivingTuesday, observed the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the US, began in 2012 as a response to the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The success of #GivingTuesday has grown rapidly, from $10 million in gifts to countless charitable causes in its first year to an estimated $117 million in 2015.

We normally offer the opportunity to Save An Acre with both a terrestrial and marine project, but thanks in part to the generosity of last year's #GivingTuesday donors, we've already fully funded and completed our rainforest project in Indonesia! We'll have two new Save An Acre projects to announce early next year.

Your Holiday Shopping Can Benefit Islands!

As we prepare for the holiday season, we'd like to remind you that you can support Seacology at no additional cost to you by shopping at Amazon Smile. Simply click here to choose us as your preferred charity, then do your Amazon shopping via Amazon will donate a small percentage of the proceeds to our work.
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