The Madagascar Project


The illegal cutting and trade of precious woods is a major global problem, and in some places contributes to the disappearance of, or threat to, entire ecosystems. Some of these threatened woods are used for our instruments, so the protection of these woods and their ecosystems lies near to our hearts.

The Masoala National Park, on the northwest coast of Madagascar, is one of five areas exhibiting the world's greatest biodiversity. However, among other activities, Illegal logging methods and “slash-and-burn” clearing contribute to degeneration and destruction of both the lowland rainforest and the coastal forest area, and sometimes lead to uncontrollable fires.

The soil layers in these areas are often thin and poor in nutrients. The arable land obtained by slash-and-burn farming quickly becomes unusable as more and more new forest is cleared to feed the approximately 9000 local people. In the worst cases, such as the current situation in southern Madagascar, the loss of natural resources can result in erosion of the landscape, dwindling waters and consequently, famine. Such scenarios must be prevented in the long term.

Our project goals are:


In reforestation efforts, seedlings are grown from the seeds of endemic trees, and then planted at optimal spacings in the areas that have been freed from degenerate scrub. Our plan includes the planting of 140,000 trees on 200 hectares in the first five years, to produce a forest area of ​​320 hectares.

Rosewood and ebony – woods used in instrument building – are among the endemic species.


The local population is involved in the project in a number of ways. Local schools participate in the cooperation through the provision of teaching materials that promote sustainable reforestation projects. The youth are guided in efforts to grow and plant seedlings and are taught to document and monitor their growth.

Local farmers are provided with vanilla plants and clove trees to be planted in a 5 km radius around the jungle area. Additionally, they may participate in a training program for fire protection in the forest. This mutually beneficial method is designed to protect the forest and to generate a good income and livelihood for the local population.

Our efforts will fund several environmental festivals annually, while work is being done to improve the tourist infrastructure, making this interesting biosphere accessible to as many people as possible. Information campaigns for larger cities in the surrounding area are also planned.

These measures spring from our desire to awaken an understanding for this sensitive ecosystem. We want to demonstrate the value of protecting, preserving and managing this unique land in a sustainable way while consequently being able to live and benefit from it.

Dr. Bauert of the Zurich Zoo created and initiated the project, and the Wildlife Conservation Society executes and monitors the work. The Zurich-based “Association of Friends of Masoala” also financially supports the efforts.

Our partner in Germany is Eben!Holz e.V., which works to protect endangered wood used in musical instrument making. Violin and bow makers founded the association in 2013 with the support of the musicians of the Staatskapelle Berlin.

The first major reforestation project of Eben!Holz e.V. took place in the Makira area of Madagascar. Musicians from the Staatskapelle Berlin co-financed the project via their climate concerts. Independent scientist Silke Lichtenberg studied the project on-site and gathered impressions from the local population. She noted the success of the measures and found the locals highly receptive to the work.

Particular credit is due to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which has been active in the region for several decades, along with Zurich Zoo and Dr. Bauert. We can now apply the experience gained in the Makira project to our own project in Masoala National Park thanks to having the board members of Eben!Holz e.V., Mathias Wohlleber (Chairman) and Antoine Müller as advisors in the association Orchester des Wandels e.V.

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