Mobilising useful plant conservation to enhance Atlas mountain community livelihoods



GDF led project (funded by the UK Government Darwin Initiative)
Under this three-year project, MBLA works with GDF as the lead implementing partner on the conservation of regionally threatened plant species through community action and capacity building.  Conservation will be accompanied by enhanced livelihoods through the sustainable commercialization of plant resources to help diversify and improve income sources, water resource rehabilitation and improved access to medical care and secondary education for Amazigh girls.

Find out more about the project here

Integrated Approach to Plant Conservation in the Moroccan High Atlas

 

 

GDF led project (funded by the MAVA Foundation)
MBLA works with GDF as the lead implementing partner to address a series of interrelated socio-ecological problems arising in the High Atlas which impact environmental conservation: loss of diversity at the genetic, species and landscape levels, overharvesting of endemic useful plant species, climate change effects, inadequate water management and erosion of cultural practices of conservation. This three-year project, launched in early 2016, focuses on integrating the three strands of GDF’s work in the High Atlas – agroecology, biodiversity conservation and water management. The project aims to support sustainable livelihoods and plant conservation while deepening knowledge of community-based conservation knowledge and practices in the region.

Find out more about the project here.

Cultural Landscape Management in the Moroccan High Atlas

GDF led project (funded by the MAVA Foundation)
MBLA works with GDF as the lead implementing partner to enhance traditional cultural practices of conservation to protect the rich biodiversity of the High Atlas in the face of socio-economic change. These practices include traditional water management, agroforestry and community-based management of high altitude pastures – all of which are vital to maintaining biodiversity.  This three-year project, launched in April 2017, will 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.

Find out more about the project here.

Improving livelihoods and protecting watersheds through efficient irrigation in the High Atlas of Morocco

The Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN)
In partnership with RESING, this project aims to enhance livelihoods, economic opportunities and ecosystem  function through the establishment of efficient irrigation systems for community nurseries and smallholder parcels in the Moroccan High Atlas.

Chronic water management problems in many High Atlas communities have far-reaching impacts, which:

- Increases pressure on the local ecosystem through over harvesting of valuable plant species and overgrazing by livestock;
- Limits agricultural production;
- Exacerbates poverty; and
- Drives economic migration.

Through the implementation of efficient irrigation projects for smallholder parcels and community nurseries, where economically and ecologically important species are grown for sale and enrichment planting, this project addresses 3 core, interdependent elements in this complex feedback loop:

1. Inefficient water management
2. Poverty
3. Ecological erosion

Agroecology and biodiversity restoration via cultural landscape management in the High Atlas (Imegdale).


UNDP Small Grants Programme
This project aims to rehabilitate cultural practices of conservation in Imegdale to ensure the protection of the biodiversity that these practices sustain.

Local communities of Imegdale, like many areas of the High Atlas, boast many traditional land management practices that promote biodiversity conservation. However, endemic and useful plant species in the region are increasingly under threat from a series of interrelated socio-ecological problems including climate change, intensive grazing, overharvesting, and other drivers.

This complex scenario is closely interrelated to the ability of communities to conserve their cultural landscapes in arapidly changing ecological, economic and social context. For example, the lack of economic benefits from agriculture has led to the exodus of rural populations to urban areas, this is particularly the case with young people and poses a significant risk to the loss of these vital ancestral modes of governance and cultural practices that conserve the rich biodiversity of the region.

This project focuses specifically on raising awareness and understanding amongst local communities of traditional conservation practices to ensure they are sustained for generations to come. This project aims to:

1. Ensure the protection of the rich biodiversity
2. Improve livelihoods and wellbeing for local communities.

Ethnobotanical Garden at Dar Taliba boarding house



Global Diversity led project (co-funded by MAVA Foundation, UK Government Darwin Initiative and public donations through Global Giving)
In collaboration with GDF, Radiant Design and RESING, MBLA works to support the creation of an ethnobotanical garden in Dar Taliba, an all-girls boarding house set up to enable students from remote villages of the Ourika Valley to continue their education beyond primary school. MBLA works together with girls currently in residence to help them learn more about Amazigh indigenous plants from their communities, located in the High Atlas Mountains.

The school gardens are designed to conserve wild plant species and traditional crop varieties for local communities. The gardens also provide a training space for students to develop new skills and knowledge in plant conservation, plant uses, agroecology techniques and indigenous practices. They can then transfer this knowledge to their families and communities. Students have been involved throughout the construction process and will continue to participate in the everyday running of the gardens which includes:

- A plant nursery and greenhouse for cultivation and production from seeds of wild species and traditional crops.
- An ethnobotanical garden where students learn about local flora and the High Atlas Landscape.
- A vegetable garden to grow produce on site for school meals.
- An aromatic and medicinal garden to grow useful, valuable and threatened species such as lavender, thyme and sage. These will be distributed to students and local communities who will plant them in designated areas, thus enhancing local incomes and wild populations.
- A demonstration garden for recreation, enjoyment and training for students.

Please visit our GlobalGiving page to find out more about the project and how you can support our work with Dar Taliba students.

Global Migrants Project

Global Diversity led project
Guided by our overarching mission to achieve dignity, justice and respect for all beings, we are launching the Global Migrants Project. This new initiative aims to promote human rights and personal dignity by improving livelihood opportunities for migrants while fostering intercultural spaces that highlight the value of diversity.

Our initial activities are divided in two categories. The first responds to the most urgent needs of migrants in Morocco: working through partners, we are facilitating access to healthcare, legal advice, nutritious food and warm clothing. These activities alleviate unnecessary suffering and let individuals pursue livelihood opportunities. 

The second aims to create intercultural spaces that highlight the value of diversity. In several areas of Morocco, migrant and local communities have started to bridge their diverse traditions through art and music. We aim to build on their efforts by facilitating access to the facilities, resources and networks that could expand the impact of this intercultural dialogue.

These initial activities are crucial in alleviating immediate precarity. However, they do not address the fundamental reasons that push people into dangerous migratory paths, the complex challenges they face en route or the difficulty of social, cultural and economic integration in host societies.

Over the longer term we plan to work across migratory corridors to create alternatives to emigration in countries of departure, promote respect for human rights and access to basic necessities in areas of transit, and provide fair opportunities for social and cultural integration in host societies. 

Morocco is the ideal place to launch projects that respond to the immediate precarity of migrants and sow the seeds for our broader long-term vision. Its political leaders are committed to handling migration as a humanitarian issue and are supportive of initiatives to assist migrants currently in its territory. Sitting at a crossroads of African, Middle Eastern and European societies, it has experience in bridging diverse cultures. Facing the triple challenge of being a country of departure, transit and destination, it showcases the dynamics that unfold at every step of the migratory process.