On-line version ISSN 2071-0771
ABSTRACT Madagascar is renowned for high levels of biodiversity and endemism. As a result of its unique flora and fauna, as well as the high levels of human threat to the environment, such as illegal clearing, hunting and political instability, it is a critical global conservation priority. Andasibe-Mantadia National Park in eastern Madagascar is one of the most popular protected areas visited by tourists. Observations carried out in 2011 showed that even though there were some negative impacts associated with natural-area tourism, the benefits to both the local communities and associated biological conservation outweighed the negatives. Natural-area tourism at Andasibe is well organised, with many local guide associations having partnerships with international organisations and 50% of park fees going directly to local communities. Forest loss is a widespread problem in Madagascar, but at Andasibe the forest is valued for its ecological function and as a generator of profits from natural-area tourism. Exploitation of the park was not observed. Andasibe is an example of how conservation and natural-area tourism can work together in Madagascar for the benefit of local communities and the environment. However, with the current unstable political climate and lack of adequate wider tourism and conservation planning frameworks, awakening to its potential as a leading conservation tourism destination will not be a simple task. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: This research demonstrated that ecotourism can be an effective means of achieving conservation objectives, whilst, at the same time, improving the livelihoods of local people. We caution, however, that governments can do a lot more to encourage and support the nexus between tourism and conservation.