Cultural landscape management in the Moroccan High Atlas

On 1 April 2017, we launched a second project funded by the MAVA Foundation, addressing biodiversity conservation and landscape management, and agroecology and livelihoods, strengthening the work being carried out in an ongoing project on integrated approach to plant conservation in the Moroccan High Atlas that began in 2016. These two projects combine in efforts to restore ecology and conserve biodiversity, promote vibrant and sustainable local economies to enhance livelihoods and wellbeing, and revitalise beneficial traditional land use practices and governance systems. Both also seek to scale up approaches at the landscape level, with a view to sustaining other High Atlas communes as they seek to conserve biodiversity whilst enhancing local livelihoods.

 

 

Through this particular project, we will work closely with our partners to assess and monitor the status of biodiversity in the context of environmental change, document sustainable land use practices and how these are changing, and analyse the ability of traditional governance systems to be maintained in a shifting political landscape. Our aim is to develop and implement targeted actions to halt the loss of biodiversity using ecological restoration methods and applying sustainable biodiversity management practices, enhance ecologically-sound local economies by combining traditional land and resource use with innovative approaches, including sustainable commercialisation of plant harvests, and work with communities to strengthen local governance practices that sustain biodiversity and wellbeing.

 

The specific objectives of this project are: 

  • To conserve biodiversity and ecosystem function of the High Atlas.
  • To enhance sustainable land-based livelihoods and wellbeing in the High Atlas.
  • To strengthen governance of High Atlas cultural landscapes.
  • To disseminate information on the importance of sustainable land use practices for wellbeing and biodiversity.
  • To support the long term vision of the High Atlas cultural landscapes programme.

 

An integrated approach in the High Atlas

Global Diversity Foundation developed an integrated approach—consolidated in our High Atlas Cultural Landscapes programme—that combines research and action on biodiversity conservation and landscape management, agroecology and livelihoods, and water management. This biodiversity-agroecology-hydrology approach was first adopted in the ongoing three-year project, launched in 2016 project, titled Integrated approach to plant conservation in the Moroccan High Atlas.

 

This three-pronged approach addresses the interconnected threats of loss of biodiversity, erosion of socio-cultural values and systems that attend to biodiversity, poverty and emigration, and poor water management in the context of increasingly severe environmental change.

  • The biodiversity conservation and landscape component includes research on conservation status of plants and habitats, and on the impact of climate change; creation of herbaria, community nurseries and seed banks (for ex situ conservation); ecological monitoring and floristic surveys; conservation actions such as enrichment planting, species management plans and enhancement of agricultural practices; and research on sustainable land use practices, ecological impacts of community-based management and mechanisms for strengthening governance.
  • The agroecology and livelihoods component comprises establishment and management of community nurseries both for the production of useful and threatened plants and for in situ conservation and enrichment planting; marketing of, and value-adding for, useful plant species to ensure greater economic returns for households; and support for education, health and wellbeing at the household level.
  • The hydrology component works to enhance overall water management in High Atlas communities to secure clean domestic water provision, improved sanitation, and enhanced irrigation, which in turn ensures greater crop returns, livelihoods, and increased water flows to ecologically sensitive wild areas.

 

All components are underwritten by an integrated participation, capacity-building and awareness-raising structure that ensures community ownership and sustainability of our overall High Atlas Cultural Landscapes Programme.