Regional programme – sample

The Region:

North Africa – spanning Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt – is rich in biological and cultural diversity. With mountains, oases and plains nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara Desert, the region has a wealth of animal and plant species, habitats and cultural landscapes. A majority of the population is Arabic, and there is a large community of Amazigh indigenous people who live in rural and urban areas from the Siwa Oasis in Egypt to the Atlantic Coast of Morocco.

North Africa faces problems of both environmental degradation and human deprivation. Pressing ecological and social problems – water access, land and resource tenure, poverty, poor governance and lack of community rights – have contributed to high rates of marginalisation, migration and urbanisation. North Africa’s rich patterns of biocultural diversity, ecological knowledge systems and resource management practices are increasingly at risk due to globalisation and climate change.

Morocco

Morocco, a country of particular focus for GDF, is a centre of species richness and endemism within the Mediterranean eco-region, which is renowned for its biological diversity. Biologists have documented some 3,800 plant species, of which 829 are endemic, and hundreds of animal species in Morocco.

Morocco has a rich mix of Mediterranean, Arab, sub-Saharan, Jewish and Berber cultural histories and identities. Prior to the ninth century spread of Arab communities in North Africa, the geographic area that covered modern-day Morocco was largely Amazigh (Berber) speaking. There are three main Berber languages: Tarifit is spoken in the northeast; Tamazight in the central Atlas, northern high Atlas and southeast; and Tachelhit in the southern high Atlas and southwest of the country. Although the Arab population and language dominate most of the linguistic and cultural landscape, Berber culture and language is very present and continues to contribute greatly to Moroccan culture and identity.

Our work

GDF’s work in North Africa supports Amazigh and other communities to sustainably and adaptably manage their changing environments while continuing to improve their livelihoods. Collaborating with local partners, GDF’s work focuses on: documenting diverse local knowledge systems and identifying species sold in the southern Moroccan marketplaces; maintaining agricultural and horticultural traditions in the Marrakech Medina; supporting Amazigh residents of the High Atlas mountains to protect their ecological knowledge and rights to lands and resources while accessing formal education; improving nutrition and income by promoting agroforestry systems; and building local capacity in Morocco through university courses, community workshops, and collaborative sustainable conservation programmes.

Projects

Pulicaria odora
Medicinal Root Trade, Plant Conservation and Local Livelihoods in Southern Morocco.

A project on wild-crafted medicinal roots that are intensively harvested in two rural townships of the High Atlas mountains – Ait M’hamed rural commune in Azilal province and Imegdale rural commune in Al Haouz province.

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78_Carey_November+25,+2014_Capture0086 - editIdentifying rare and endangered species commercialized in the markets of southern Morocco using molecular methods.

As an intrinsic part of Moroccan life, many markets are used for trade in plants and other organic materials.  In collaboration with Cadi Ayyad University and the University of Uppsala’s Department of Evolution, Genomics, and Systematics, in 2003, GDF conducted research to identify species traded in Marrakech markets and the surrounding regions. Utilizing applied research, the GDF regional team has identified, documented, and catalogued commercialised rare and endangered plant species. To decrease the number of endangered species sold in markets, in collaboration with local partners, GDF developed a methodology to identify plant species, and by using appropriate plant identification techniques, misidentification of plant species can be reduced. In turn, this reduction enhances the conservation of endangered species through proper identification and educational programmes aimed at both local consumers and tourists. The endangered species database, including the most commercialised species, expands as local partners catalogue both individual components of multiple plant mixtures.

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School gardens project
School Gardens Project

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featured-video

Aphrodisiacs & Botanical Livelihoods:

Gary Martin at TEDxMarrakesh

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Medicinal Root Trade, Plant Conservation and Local Livelihoods in Southern Morocco.

Medicinal Root Trade, Plant Conservation and Local Livelihoods in Southern Morocco.

Medicinal Root Trade, Plant Conservation and Local Livelihoods in Southern Morocco.

Medicinal Root Trade, Plant Conservation and Local Livelihoods in Southern Morocco.