Regional Programmes


Since 2000, GDF has launched vibrant applied collaborative research programmes with indigenous communities in Mesoamerica, North Africa, Southeast Asia and southern Africa. In collaboration with local and national institutions, we provide training and advocacy to support communities as they design and implement their own initiatives to maintain local environments and enhance their livelihoods and wellbeing. Our areas of focus depend on community interests and priorities, and to date we have worked on community-based biocultural diversity conservation, sustainable livelihoods, community access to lands and resources, the continuity of ethnobiological knowledge, community health and wellbeing.

We recently consolidated our regional activities into two programmes: the North America regional programme, which expands from our Mesoamerica programme to include the US and Canada; and the Mediterranean regional programme, which grows out of our North Africa programme with a view to including countries on the Northern and Eastern shores of the Mediterranean sea. The Southern Africa and Southeast Asia programmes, which ran for five and ten years respectively, are no longer active but form part of GDF’s legacy.

GDF also runs an International Programme which promotes biocultural diversity through workshops, training, documentation and networking opportunities. Since 2012, most of our training and networking efforts at the global level have been channeled through the Global Environments Network. Our International Programme now focuses on publications and sharing methodological innovations.

North America

To date, GDF’s work in North America has principally focused on the Chinantla region of Oaxaca state in Southern Mexico. In response to a local request for assistance, we have collaborated with Anima Mundi – Investigación y Acción Biocultural, a local NGO that works with Chinantec communities. We have supported community endeavours to secure their rights to their territories and resources, to protect their food sovereignty and to enhance the management of their biocultural diversity and extensive community conserved territories. Since 2013, GDF works with indigenous collaborators in North America to foster networking, mutual learning and exchange between emerging community leaders through North American Community Environmental Leadership Exchanges.


Participant of a nature photography workshop for the San Pedro Tlatepusco community.





GDF has worked in the Mediterranean region since 2000, when it launched its Morocco programme. Here, in collaboration with local and national institutions, GDF documented local knowledge systems and identified plant species sold in southern Morocco marketplaces, helped maintain agricultural and horticultural traditions in the Marrakech medina and helped establish participatory ethnobotanical and educational gardens in schools throughout the Marrakech region, with a view to supporting the transmission of traditional knowledge. Currently, we are collaborating with Amazigh communities in the Moroccan High Atlas seeking to sustainably manage their changing environments while enhancing their livelihoods and wellbeing.


Imegdel nursery




Southeast Asia

Beginning in 2004, GDF’s work in Southeast Asia with Dusun communities in the Crocker Range and Mount Kinabalu areas focused on supporting them to establish forest and resource management approaches that respect traditional livelihoods and knowledge systems and to design endogenous development pathways compatible with the objectives of these protected areas. Through a blend of participatory research and action, and interactive training programmes, we explored the issues between parks and people to uncover ways protected areas and indigenous communities can converge to support both biodiversity conservation and sustainable livelihoods.





Southern Africa

Work in southern Africa began in 2006. We worked principally with San communities in the Omaheke region of Namibia to create home gardens and promote San use of wild food and medicinal plants to promote healthy lifestyles in sedentary settlements. We implemented an integrative approach to conservation and development, balancing the need for increased livelihood opportunities, food security and education with the ecological considerations of the Kalahari eco-region.


SA faces

International Programme


Between 2000 and 2011, GDF’s International Programme promoted biocultural diversity through training, documentation and networking opportunities. We established the Biocultural Diversity Learning Network, organising seminars, workshops and trainings at regional and international scales on the topic. We maintained an online repository of resources on biocultural diversity, and continue to animate a dedicated Facebook page. In 2012, we created the Global Environments Network (GEN) through which we now channel most of our international work.

Overview of GDF’s International ProgrammeGlobal Environments Network