Hermann Fanomezantsoa realized he had a role to play to protect the environment at a very young age. His passion for conservation began when he was just 14.
Even then I saw that the rainfall patterns were disrupted. People were destroying the forest without worrying about the consequences, destroyed forests were not replaced, it was not a world I wanted for my future. I decided at 14 that it had to stop and that I had to become a forester.
Now 23-years-old and a student of agronomy at the Higher Institute of Technology of Menabe in Morondava, Hermann is a boy scout and also the President of the youth consortium Mahery. The consortium is a union of seven youth associations in the region around the town of Morondava. The group’s main goals are to prepare young people to become responsible citizens who are committed to the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable development of the Menabe region.
Leading Youth and Leading Change
The consortiumn has already proven its value. They have organized a number of activities promoting sustainable development and the protection of biodiversity, including the restoration of 50 hectares of mangroves. Giving back to the region and being part of the solution had a big impact on Hermann.
“We did activities with the villagers to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the mangroves. We planted propagules (mangrove seedlings) together, worked together. I cannot wait to see our seedlings grow. To show young people what can be done with good will and partnering with the villagers.”
Being the President of Mahery is an important responsibility for Hermann.
“On a personal level, I had the honor and opportunity to be a spokesperson for the youth of the Menabe during the Conference of Youth 11 climate change conference in Antananarivo last November. It was a unique opportunity to fight for my beliefs, and those of my friends, and also a great responsibility for me. I was able to share, listen and educate others.”
Environmental education as a solution
He sees the way forward as being environmental education. Hermann is aware that many factors can slow the awareness of climate change issues.
“People are poor in the bush Menabe. Many are poorly educated or have received no formal education at all. These are facts. Poverty, illiteracy and lack of education are large barriers. People are not open enough. The only solution for me is education. We must let people know the value of the natural resources they are unknowingly destroying. The protection and sustainable management of the environment must first go through a good environmental education. This is a major focus of the work of the consortium Mahery.”