Revitalising the silk industry

The Wild Silk Forest

This project is a perfect example of conservation and development hand in hand. It is saving the endemic tapia forest - the last remnants of highland primary forest - at a vital rate by helping the people who live round about to earn a good living from the forest. They have a vested interest in protecting and replanting it.

A healthy forest is essential for the survival of silkworm cocoons and the wild silk business. The cocoons harvested from the wild silk moth give the forest an incredible value to the silk weaver; much more so than if it were to be logged or turned into fields. And that is without even considering the extra benefits provided by the forest such as fruit, medicine, fodder and watersheds.

In October last year as part of their four part series about "Madagascar"* the BBC and the David Attenborough Team spent three days filming this project as an example of good practice being carried out in conservation and development.

"Initiatives like this silk project bring hope for the future of Madagascar "

- Sir David Attenborough

Much of the tapia forest is still at risk of degradation from logging, bush fires and the invasion of pine trees. These threaten its survival. It is essential that we step up our efforts to promote and expand the benefits of the silk industry in this endemic region.

Our current appeal target of £20,000 will pay for 170 more women weavers to be trained and to set up businesses in silk production. This will allow them to earn a good living, They will be able to send their children to school and make sure that their whole family is well fed and healthy. At the same time 30,000 trees will be planted to restore and join up fragmented islands of forest. Thus increasing the survival of the forest for man and beast alike.

donateHelp us to protect the tapia forest, the silk industry and hundreds of livelihoods in the region.

You can further support this project by purchasing a "lamba" - a Malagasy Wild Silk Scarf - the product of our Wild Silk project. The cost of your purchase provides a living wage for the weavers and helps create a 'market' for the wild silk project's products. If you would like to support this project by purchasing a "lamba" please contact jamie@feedbackmadagsacar.org

*The BBC program "David Attenborough and the Giant Egg" was recently broadcast, to watch the episode click here.

What

The project supports women's groups and households protecting the tapia forest through the revitalisation of the silk industry in Madagascar. We do this by training women weavers on all stages of silk production; from raising the silkworms, to spinning, weaving and increasing the commercialisation of their silk product such as scarves and cloth. We also train households who protect the forest on the most effective practice for conserving and managing it and on how to create an optimum breeding system for the silkworms. In effect this helps to increase and protect the amount that they can sell.

Why

Silk production was traditional to Madagascar but, for many reasons, it greatly decreased towards the end of the 20th Century and wild silkworms disappeared from many of the endemic tapia forests. Now that there is a growing market for silk once again local communities in the region can reap substantial economic benefits. By continuing with our best efforts to protect the re-introduction of silkworms and the tapia region we can commit to fighting against poverty in the region.

Results


Initial experiments proved the feasibility of tapia reforestation and this has motivated local communities to work with Ny Tanintsika/Feedback Madagascar to improve silk production. On average we produce 50 tonnes of silk per year for the area we cover and this is sold locally, regionally and internationally. Since the project began we have substantially increased the income of the 200 women and the 800 households (or 21 community associations) who work with us.