Hunting of wildlife is one of the major threats to biodiversity. For effective conservation programmes in countries where hunting and shifting agriculture are the main sources of subsistence, forest management should aim to reduce hunting pressure and forest exploitation. The presence of researchers has been promoted as one of the main ways to mitigate anthropogenic pressures on wildlife populations. Our aim was to test whether local management and the establishment of a research station had a role in decreasing forest exploitation by local people living adjacent to a recently protected area in south-east Madagascar. We interviewed local people from nine villages at various distances from the recently established research station of Ampasy, in the northernmost portion of the Tsitongambarika Protected Area, to explore how people use the forest, with a particular focus on hunting. We also performed transect surveys to estimate snare and lemur encounter rates before local forest management began, at the establishment of the research station, and 1 year after. The impact of local communities on the forest seems to have decreased since the beginning of forest management, with a further decrease since the establishment of the research station. Participants from villages not involved in the local management were more reluctant to declare their illegal activities. We conclude that a combination of local management and related activities (e.g. installation of a research station) can assist in temporarily reducing forest exploitation by local communities; however, community needs and conservation plans should be integrated to maintain long-term benefits.