The Andrew Lees Trust logo Map of Africa highlighting Madagascar

Social and Environmental Projects
in Madagascar

Andrew Lees
ANDREW LEES (1949-1994)

Andrew Lees (1949 - 1994) was a scientist, conservationist and one of the world's top environmentalists who became Director of Campaigns at Friends of the Earth. He successfully led a number of high profile international campaigns and went to Madagascar in December 1994 to research a proposed Rio Tinto ilmenite mine that threatened to eradicate 6000 hectares of unique littoral forests in the south east of the island.

Andrew died in Madagascar whilst filming in the imperilled forest of Petriky.

See the film "My Madagascar" about Andrew's field mission in 1994

The Trust was set up in his name in 1995.

Andrew believed passionately in empowering people to find their own solutions - whether for environmental, social or personal development. The main remit of the Andrew Lees Trust reflects that larger purpose and the example of Andrew"s inspirational work with local communities.

Read the Andrew Lees Biography (PDF 243 Kb)



As part of its ethical and social responsibilities, and in honouring Andrew's legacy, The Trust has endeavoured to maintain a focus on, and draw attention to social and environmental challenges brought about by Rio Tinto's QMM mine, which became operational in 2005. In particular, it has sought to amplify the voices of local communities faced with losses to their lands, food security and traditional ways of life.

In this work, the Trust has collaborated with community representatives, international NGOs and researchers to collect testimonies, help publish and disseminate reports, provide accompaniment, assist legal representation of mine affected communities, participate in shareholder action, present information at public meetings and talks, and lobby the company directly for improved communications and compensation practices.

The Trust adopts an ethical stance to the Rio Tinto mining project in Madagascar;

read our statement here (PDF 186 Kb)

Current Action:

The Andrew Lees Trust has undertaken to investigate QMM's illegal violation of an environmental buffer zone that is meant to protect waterways from any harmful impacts of the mining operation. The investigation follows questions raised in 2017 by the Director of The Andrew Lees Trust, first in an article in The Ecologist in 2017 and subsequently at the 2017 Rio Tinto AGM.

Studies undertaken by The Trust's expert in hydrology and mining, Dr. Steven Emerman, confirmed the violation of the buffer zone by QMM.  The violation is of concern because it compromises the protection of Lakes Besaroy and Ambavarano in the estuary where local people fish, gather reeds and other water products vital for their food security and livelihoods.

Read the main Investigation Findings and September 2018 Article in The Ecologist here

REPORTS (English and French Versions)

Main Report English version:
Evaluation of a Buffer Zone at an Ilmenite Mine operated by Rio Tinto on the Shores of Lakes Besaroy and Ambavarano, Madagascar. Emerman, S., 2018

Rapport principal version Francais:
Évaluation d'une zone tampon dans une mine d'ilménite exploitée par Rio Tinto sur les rives des lacs Besaroy et Ambavarano, Madagascar. Emerman, S., 2018.

Additional study English version:
Risk Assessment for Loss of Radionuclides from Mining Basins operated by Rio Tinto on the Shores of Lakes Besaroy and Ambavarano, Madagascar.Emerman, S., 2018.

Étude supplémentaire version Francais:
Évaluation des risques de perte de radionucléides des bassins miniers exploités par Rio Tinto sur les rives des lacs Besaroy et Ambavarano, à Madagascar.Emerman, S., 2018.

The Trust continues to pursue transparency about the buffer zone violation and is in dialogue with Rio Tinto, awaiting a full response to questions raised by ALT UK since May 2017.


March 2019

November 2018:

September 2018

April 2017 l

March 2017 

VERSIONS FRANCAIS (traductions de base) des articles: -

March 2019 Le groupe minier Rio Tinto sest retiré de la zone environnementale

November 2018 Rio Tinto: Le long chemin de la transparence

Sept 2018 Craintes de pollution de l'eau enrichie en radionucléides du fait que le secteur minier malgache viole les limites légales    


The Trust has also worked alongside Friends of the Earth to highlight the challenges and issues of Biodiversity Offsetting around mining in New Tricks: Biodiversity Offsetting and Mining

Download the PDF of the report here

See our support for community accompaniment in Antsotso, one of the biodiversity offset sites of the QMM mine:


Voices of change
In 2007 ALT UK worked with Panos London to help amplify the voice of local people in Anosy and enable them to express their experiences of struggling to make life work on the edge of rapid change, largely brought about by the mine: