Lily-Arison Rene de Roland
On the rough road to our field sites in northern Madagascar Author: John Mittermeier
2023

Lily-Arison Rene de Roland

Biodiversity Expert/Conservationist

in the heart of madagascar

meet lily-arison

With the Peregrine Fund since 1992, Lily-Arison Rene de Roland has developed widely emulated, community-focused conservation programs in Madagascar. He has found an endemic duck thought to be extinct, contributed to the discovery of two lemur species, and, in 2021, a newly described wolf spider was named Katableps lilyarisoni, after him. Rene de Roland has led the establishment of four national protected areas, some of the best remaining natural habitats in Madagascar. He has mentored more than 100 Malagasy graduate students and oversees a team of 48 working to conserve wildlife and landscapes. He’s had a profound impact in preserving biological diversity and improving the livelihoods and capacity of his fellow citizens.

in the heart of madagascar
Nominated by: Jalsa Urubshurow MN'20
Class of 2023 Location Madagascar
Lily and two Malagasy master’s students with an Endangered Madagascar Marsh Harrier in 1997
Lily and two Malagasy master’s students with an Endangered Madagascar Marsh Harrier in 1997 Author: Russell Thorstrom

Madagascar is home to many endemic species under threat. I came to direct the Peregrine Fund’s Madagascar Program in 2004 and have helped create community-based conservation of protected areas—nearly 200,000 hectares of rainforests, dry forests, wetlands, mangroves, and savannas—substantially improving the lives of those nearby. I work to develop the capacity of local people and groups to manage these areas. Despite substantial degradation of the country’s natural resources, our management approach ensures that the various ecosystems remain intact and support threatened species. Local management of fisheries enables communities to sustainably harvest 600 tons of fish for both sustenance and income during a six-month fishing season, while leaving enough fish in lakes and time for fish to breed, which, in turn, supports critically endangered fish eagles.

“I do what I do out of pride in my country’s biodiversity and love for its wonderful people.”

- Lily-Arison Rene de Roland

I strive to produce Malagasy conservation leaders and have supervised students from three public universities, resulting in 90 master’s degrees and 16 PhDs. I hope that our work has improved the lives of the Malagasy people by maintaining ecosystem services while also conserving the island’s unique biodiversity. Collectively, we have rediscovered species on expedition thought to be extinct, including the Madagascar serpent eagle, Madagascar red owl, and Madagascar pochard. I aspire to conserve Madagascar’s biodiversity, develop the next generation of conservationists, and improve the lives of my fellow citizens. I do what I do out of pride in my country’s biodiversity and love for its wonderful people.

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