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BBC Two: Earth’s Tropical Islands series explores Vezo culture

BBC Two: Earth’s Tropical Islands series explores Vezo culture

In January 2020, the BBC aired Earth’s Tropical Islands – a three-part documentary series that explores Madagascar, Borneo and Hawaii, as three of the world’s most isolated and iconic tropical islands. Alongside the three main episodes, the production team also put together a set of short clips which are available online, showcasing some of the fascinating landscapes, wildlife and communities that they encountered during filming.

Blue Ventures worked alongside the BBC to facilitate the making of Visit the Vezo, a clip about the Vezo people – a traditionally semi-nomadic group from south and west Madagascar whose cultural identity is based around a seafaring existence. The Vezo have lived off the ocean for generations, yet their livelihoods are increasingly under threat as a result of a suite of challenges including climate change, population growth and over-fishing.

However, with this threat comes greater motivation for coastal communities to proactively manage their resources and protect their livelihoods through grassroots movements. The Vezo people were involved in the creation of Madagascar’s first locally managed marine area (LMMA), Velondriake, as well as the largest LMMA in the Western Indian Ocean, the Barren Isles. By applying their deep knowledge of the ocean, along with support from non governmental organisations like Blue Ventures to improve local governance, the Vezo are now engaging coastal communities to protect marine biodiversity and improve food security.

Whilst there are still evident obstacles in their way, the clip shows that the Vezo tradition of passing knowledge from one generation to the next remains at the heart of community life. By doing so, they hope to maintain the Vezo way of life for many years to come, no matter what barriers they face.

“Learning the rhythms of the sea from a young age is crucial, to help prepare them for a life on the waves”

Watch the clip about the Vezo or enjoy the whole series on BBC iPlayer.

To see Blue Ventures’ own work, watch our short film Kokoly, the story of a Vezo fisherwoman who lives against a backdrop of climate breakdown, personal loss and a marine environment changing beyond her control.

Learn about how Blue Ventures supports remote coastal communities across the tropics by catalysing community-led conservation

Photo: Louise Jasper

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