Madagascar is well-known for its natural uniqueness but at the same time faces a tremendous habitat loss because of anthropogenic threats. As global initiative governments are encouraged to nominate protected areas in order to either stop or reduce biodiversity loss. While decisions on conservation activities are mainly based on epistemic grounds, the role of local people and their socio-cultural context in its complexity remains to be left out. Although conservation organizations demonstrate their willingness to cooperate with local people, cultural discrepancies are still too vast and yet inhibit a well-balanced and constructive collaboration. In a social science study using participatory rural appraisal and semi-structured interviews in two biosphere reserves in the north of Madagascar we collected qualitative data from local people, local authorities and biosphere reserve management. The aim is (1) to contrast local value perceptions with western epistemic based understanding of forest resources and (2) to elaborate on local social institutions (organization) in the two Malagasy biosphere reserves. Results show on the one hand that by far not only provisioning services are conveyed as could have been expected, but also values that can be assigned to one of the three other categories: regulating, cultural or supporting services. On the other hand local people support a grouping in thematic associations, which foster their recognition and potential social movements towards collectively defined goals in the conservation debate. These facts encourage dialogue between apparently differing positions on forest ecosystems that provide services to both the local and the global community.