Lifelong environmentalist and nature enthusiast Olivier Behra had long been drawn to the beauty and biodiversity of Madagascar. After focusing his early work on habitat preservation, Behra observed the intense poverty of many rural communities on the island. Many burned forest land to make space to plant crops. He realized that to be successful, he would need to involve the local people in any efforts to preserve Madagascar’s biodiversity and simultaneously create opportunities for viable livelihoods. In 1993 Behra founded “L'Homme et l'Environnement” (Man and the Environment) with the aim of demonstrating that environmental preservation and human development can go hand in hand. Man and the Environment has since expanded to manage six sites of threatened biodiversity with a staff of more than 250 local and international biologists, anthropologists and economists.
Man and Nature is Behra’s next pursuit to promote local biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. The organization supports local communities, in particular women, to develop businesses based on sustainable resource extraction, and will link these businesses to local and global companies and natural ingredient markets.
Man and Nature’s work crafts a compelling story for how private companies and local communities partner to develop natural ingredient markets that support sustainable development, biodiversity conservation and corporate goals. The grant will support increased conservation of the Sangako Forest and greater financial autonomy of the local villages as they participate in environmentally responsible income-generating activities. Above all, as Man and Nature builds its staff and expands partnerships in Senegal, it can attract broader philanthropic support and show the net positive impact of sustainable product supply chains on both people and environment.