By Pommelien da Silva Cosme, Communications and Field Officer, GDF
During the months of December and January, together with our partner Moroccan Biodiversity and Livelihoods Association, we fulfilled our annual commitment to distribute plants for cultivation in communities throughout Imegdale rural commune in the High Atlas.
After travelling the windy road with many twists and turns, we arrived at the Imegdale community plant nursery where our team has cultivated 22,000 plants of 30 endemic, valuable and threatened species such as almond trees and lavender.
The plants grown in the nursery have all been selected in collaboration with local communities who will plant them in designated areas and reintroduce these species back to the wild. Once these valuable plants are distributed they will enhance rural incomes and decrease harvesting pressure on wild populations, which the community often heavily depend on for their livelihoods.
We were greeted by Hamid Aït Baskad, our community researcher responsible for the nursery, who was busy gathering and counting different kinds of plants to prepare for distribution before community members arrived from different douars (villages). Some even made a two-hour journey on foot to reach the nursery! Those invited to collect plants are all members of the local cooperative Imdoukal Znaga, a GDF partner that organises activities around medicinal plants and supports fair trade of rural harvests. Our team welcomed community members with a glass of sweet herbal tea, while Hamid asked which plants they were interested in bringing home. Everyone gathered around the collection of different species available to indicate which plants they wanted and how many they needed, after which they collected them from the nursery together with the team.
Over the course of one week, we distributed 14,992 plants to 40 members of the local cooperative from 9 different villages of the Imegdale community. All the plants distributed have a commercial value and will therefore help to support local incomes, including wormwood (Artemisia arborescens), Origanum (Origanum compactum), Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis) and French lavender (Lavandula dentata).
Hamid is pleased the plants he has been cultivating together with the team will now be planted in home gardens and semi-domesticated terraces around Imegdale. “With a brand new water filter in place, the expansion of the drip irrigation and the very wet winter we have had so far, we are looking forward to seeing the nursery flourish this spring and growing many more plants for distribution”, he said.
This activity is part of our High Atlas Cultural Landscape programme, which is aimed at maintaining the unique flora and ecosystems of the High Atlas whilst securing sustainable livelihoods and wellbeing for the Amazigh communities that manage them.