Author: Dominic White
The Forester Volunteer Experience
I have been on the forestry program in Nosy Komba for twelve weeks now and I have enjoyed every moment. The typical week on project involves a bird survey or reptile transect on Monday and Tuesday, a church walk or ‘Bobby walk’ on Wednesday and agroforestry, lemur surveys or invasive species removal on Thursday and Friday.
The activities which I have enjoyed the most were agroforestry and ‘Bobby walks’. Agroforestry involved helping a local from around the island to create a sustainable farm. This was enjoyable because I felt involved with the community and the difference we made was easy to recognize. The Bobby walks, so named after a legendary local staff member on camp, involved hikes around the island which took up to 11 hours. I enjoyed these because it provided a great way to see different parts of the island and allowed us to do reptile plot surveys in new environments.
During our spare time here at camp, I learnt about the different bird, reptile and amphibian species found in Madagascar. This was a good way to pass the time and allowed me to get the most out of surveys. My studies are in economics and it is unlikely I will have many opportunities to learn about these species in the future.
On the weekend, many of the volunteers go swimming on the beach a few meters away from camp, visit the local town or take trips to nearby islands and mainland Madagascar. The best trip which I took was to Ankarana, a national park on mainland. Here, we were able to appreciate the species we had learnt about on camp in a new environment. We also experienced what the forests around Nosy Komba could look like in the future if efforts to conserve it are continued.
Overall, the most I have learnt has come from interacting with the locals, especially during the agroforestry and village cleans. They have taught me the importance of the forest and some of the sustainable ways that humans and ecosystems can interact. I hope that the important work here at MRCI continues and the forest and ocean environments are improved further.