SEPALI: Sehatry ny Mpamokatra Landy Ifotony (Organization of Wild Silk Producers)

SEPALI is a non-governmental organization (NGO) focused on conservation-based livelihood development. SEPALI Madagascar works closely with farmers to identify develop and implement new ways of income generation. Our mission is to protect areas of high conservation value by linking the economic livelihoods of poor rural farmers to environmental preservation. 

To do this, SEPALI has identified multiple species of native silk moths that produce commercially viable silks, and we have designed techniques for intercropping the moth's endemic host plants in border forests and abandoned pastures. Farmers who plant 200 trees with which to rear larvae can increase their average income by 30% after two years. 

When other family members participate in product finishing, income gains will increase between 40-60%. 

We are currently working with farmers and communities who have been economically displaced from the Makira protected area in northeastern Madagascar. Our approach conserves habitat while at the same time providing a vital source of income for the local community. 

This project is the first empirical test of the ability of small-scale enterprises to contribute both to environmental goals and to poverty alleviation.

"Things that had no use to us before now have meaning. SEPALI has blossomed in this community."

- Trozona


For many communities in rural areas, conservation is a Western notion that they would like to adopt, but many simply cannot afford to take action. That is why the SEPALI approach of combining conservation with economic development has become so important for many local farmers. 

With SEPALI`s assistance, local communities now have the opportunity to provide for their families while at the same time ensuring that the valuable ecosystems that surround them remain intact for future generations. 

The creation of the Makira Protected Area as a means of safeguarding Madagascar’s unique biodiversity has meant that agricultural and forest-based income generating activities have been stopped or greatly reduced. 

To date there are no new, alternative income earning opportunities and thus the logical alternatives for growing communities on limited land is to undertake illegal income activities (Rosewood and Ebony extraction bush meat hunting, illegal tavy. 

The need for alternative livelihoods remains a critical point ensure the success of protected area management. The need has not been met throughout most of Madagascar.


Direct beneficiaries:


  • 150 to 300 subsistence farmers (men and women) during primary project cycle in 6 to 10 Makira Protected Area communities.

  • Community groups developing through value-adding opportunities for wild silk – women & men in 6 communities

  • Six Makira protected area communities benefit through increased access to agricultural assistance and co-operative membership.

  • Makira conservation organisations through increased sustainable development activities for farmers

  • More than 1200 school children through the SEPALI wild silk schools project (also possibly provides a return to schools through the sale of cocoons)

  • Ambinantelo businesses - during the development of new Co-operative facility

  • Agricultural Land owners in watershed of project area

Indirect beneficiaries:


  • 6 border forest communities through increased economic activity and community well-being totalling an estimated 11,000 men, women & children.

  • Ambinanitelo community through development of new co-operative centre and further future employment.

  • Community craftspeople through access to new CPALI created markets and export opportunities.


One of the goals of the SEPALI program is to develop a group of native species that can be integrated into border forests and on local farms or used to restore damaged habitat.


Restoring forest habitats, however, is a long-term process that must include detailed conservation planning. Ideally, multiple species of trees that can provide diverse benefits to a community need to be intercropped, some that are fast growing and some that are not.


SEPALI currently uses silk from Ceranchia apollina, Argema mettrei, Borocera cajani, Bombyx mori, Antherina suraka, and Deborrea malagassa. The moths need a wide array of native host plants and each is supported by different habitats in different communities around Madagascar. 

In addition, the artisans also produce materials for export with raffia, a native palm to Madagascar which can be woven, braided, or sewn into textiles and art. 

Wild Silk & Raffia



CP 512


Maroantsetra, Madagascar

Tel: 123 - 456 - 7890

Fax: 123 - 456 - 7890



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