Globally, the number of protected areas (PAs) has increased exponentially during the last 25 years, particularly in biodiversity-rich developing countries. Many recent initiatives have integrated local-scale socio-economic development into both design and management. Because the rates of deforestation and species extinction are increasing in most parts of the world, substantial efforts have been made to build and strengthen local environmental organizations, to establish new protected areas (NPAs), and to improve natural resource management. An NPA was recently established at Ibity Massif in central Madagascar, where a community-based conservation project is being coordinated by the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG). In December 2008, a temporary protection order was issued, and definitive establishment of the NPA, which falls under Category V of the IUCN PA system, is expected before the end of 2015. This initiative has involved significant outreach and community education programs to raise awareness of Ibity's conservation and economic importance and the threats to its biodiversity, along with ongoing efforts to reduce fire frequency and implement ecological restoration projects with significant local community participation. In order to ensure the sustainability of this NPA, a co-management plan has been implemented involving MBG, local authorities, and the local population. This study describes the diagnostic process undertaken at Ibity in order to: 1) disseminate the data gathered to inform establishment of the NPA; and 2) summarize the initial state of the environment on the massif prior to the implementation of a management plan, as a baseline for assessing the NPA's effectiveness.