REEF Rangers (RR), a youth-orientated project, is educating the children of Kia Island in Macuata about conservation and environmental management issues through fun, interactive activities.
The program is run by Community Centred Conservation (C3), a British non-profit conservation organisation working with developing island nations to conserve and sustainably manage their natural resources.
C3 program co-ordinator Akosita Rokomate says the organisation's three target regions are Madagascar and the Indian Ocean islands, Philippines, Micronesia, Fiji and South Pacific Islands.
And RR is based on other projects C3 runs ù like the Junior Ecoguards and Scouts of Antsiranana based in Comoros and Madagascar.
Ms Rokomate said C3 was about 10 years old and has been at their research site on Kia Island for a little over a year.
Through RR, she explained, children from kindergarten to primary school are learning about the marine environment including traditional and scientific knowledge of various species, habitats and ecosystems and are introduced to sustainable environmental practices at a young age.
Community members volunteer as local assistants on lessons and activities and C3 staff are in charge of facilitating the project led by program officer Maleli Qera.
In the past year, RR, now two years old, in addition to classroom lessons involved children in activities like beach clean-up and waste separation, coastal reforestation, marine character parades and movie nights, T-shirt competitions, and social events.
Success, Mr Qera says, is evident in the positive response from the children, teachers and parents and support from donors.
Mr Qera works directly with children and notes they have developed confidence and improved their awareness of local and scientific knowledge of the marine environment that surrounds them.
"Children are taking the lessons they learn during RR home and passing on their knowledge to their parents and community at large, not only through daily interaction but also through social events such as the Kia Eco Festival," he said.
Kia Island sits on a barrier reef system of regional and global importance as the third largest continuous barrier reef system in the world boasting an impressive array of marine biodiversity that has been reported in previous studies undertaken in the region.
Mr Qera said by educating and improving awareness among these future custodians and resource users, it is hoped that students will be empowered to start practising good conservation and environmentally friendly habits.