The Coastal Academy is a unique, innovative and entrepreneurial plan to engage private, public and non-governmental sectors in a holistic project that will assure the sustainable development of marine resources in the western Indian Ocean islands. It has long been recognized that this region harbours incredible and little-explored marine biodiversity with enormous actual (and potential) value in terms of food production, medicinal uses, coastal protection and recreational value. Since the 1800s, there has been a one-sided emphasis on conservation of Africa’s unique terrestrial fauna yet there are currently huge gaps in scientific knowledge and local capacity for the conservation of marine species and habitats and a lack of technical expertise is limiting the effectiveness of current conservation initiatives.
The Coastal Academy is the first training facility of its kind, delivering its courses in two languages, and thus ensuring its accessibility to students from both the Western Indian Ocean region and further afield. This multicultural environment, together with the expertise and enthusiasm of the local and international teaching staff, gives students a unique educational experience, allowing them to deepen their knowledge and understanding of environmental management of tropical ecosystems and exposing them to new, innovative and exciting approaches. Group discussions, assignments and field trips give students the chance to interact and learn from one another about the different ecosystems, their management and the many challenges that are faced in different parts of the world. This cross-cultural exchange is an invaluable aspect of the course, also helping develop friendships, improve cultural awareness and understanding and further personal and professional development.
Situated on the campus of the University of Antsiranana, the Coastal Academy is housed in a newly refurbished and fully equipped room, providing a comfortable learning environment. Presentation facilities and a network of laptop computers are available, and students have access to an electronic library of over 3000 references as well as hard copies of books and publications in both French and English.
The Coastal Academy is primarily funded by the Rufford Foundation.