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Priory School, Lewes, and the Railway Land Project are creating links with Clairefontaine College in Fort Dauphin, Madagascar. The potential for students in both countries to learn from each other is huge.
Fort Dauphin lagoon from the air
The southeast coast of Madagascar: golden beaches, granite headlands and sheltered lagoons. Clairefontaine School of Fort Dauphin is establishing contact with Priory School and the Railway Land Project through the help of Alison Jolly who has pioneered research on the lemurs of Madagascar at Berenty Reserve near Fort Dauphin. (The Berenty Reserve website).

On Monday 22nd January 2007, this website was 'soft-launched' at Priory School, Lewes by Chloe and Chris, two pupils chosen at random. A short warm-up session by John Parry led to the introduction of Alison Jolly who gave a brief live talk on why Madagscar is so important and why she backs the Railway Land Project.

This website was formally launched on 18th June, 2007, by Norman Baker, MP.
Clairefontaine School and Mme Montenot, its Principal.
Clairefontaine School was founded in 2004. It has 90 students of years 7-10, and is growing rapidly. The students speak Malagasy at home but have their classes in French and are studying English as a third language. Mme Montenot, the Principal, is excited about the new links with Priory.
Fort Dauphin students
Fort Dauphin has minimal internet connections at the moment but this is rapidly changing. Students study IT as well as science, history, literature, languages and other subjects. The challenge will be to work out joint projects both in languages and the environment ready for future internet capability.
Dr. Hanta Rasamimanana with students in the forest.
Dr. Hanta Rasamimanana teaches students in Mandena Reserve, the nearest reserve to the school. The community-based management program of this reserve was influenced by a British scientist who learned from the Railway Land in Lewes. Dr. Rasamimanana has also visited the Railway Land, which confirmed her view that nature and people can work together.
Cover from Nature journal on the world's biodiversity hotspots.
Madagascar is a world-class biodiversity hotspot! About 90% of its native species can only be found on the island-continent. Madagascar is 1600 km long, the distance from London to Naples. Clairefontaine School is within 50 km of three incredibly different and important natural habitats: coastal forest, mountain rainforest, and surreal semi-desert spiny forest.

The key hotspots are shown in red running as a spine down the Americas, through Indonesia and in parts of Africa with Madagascar right at the bottom of the largest globe..
Hanta and Alison
Drs Hanta Rasamimanana and Alison Jolly learn how to put information into the Railway Land Project website while Hanta was visiting in Lewes. Travel to and from Madagascar is difficult and expensive but, in time, we expect a two-way flow of information to grow.