Cultural Practices of Conservation in the High Atlas

Cultural Practices of Conservation (CPC) shape biodiversity and landscapes, maintain a vibrant mosaic of ecosystems and sustain local livelihoods. These dynamic, living traditions are increasingly threatened by changing environmental, economic and social realities, such as the exodus of young people from rural areas, severe and prolonged drought, and low monetary rewards from traditional agriculture. Understanding these Cultural Practices is fundamental to the creation of socially and ecologically appropriate biodiversity conservation and landscape management approaches.

Although a wide variety of cultural practices shape the High Atlas landscapes, only one practice – the agdal sylvopastoral resource management system – has been studied. To assess the importance of local cultural practices and deepen our understanding of agricultural, pastoral and culinary traditions, Global Diversity Foundation (GDF) and local partner Moroccan Biodiversity & Livelihoods Association (MBLA), carried out in-depth research on cultural practices in the High Atlas communes of Aït M’hamed in Azilal Province and Imegdal in Al Haouz Province, funded by the MAVA Foundation. These activities are at the heart of of GDF’s High Atlas Cultural Landscapes programme. We aim to strengthen these traditional practices for the conservation of unique High Atlas biodiversity while enhancing wellbeing of the communities that have managed and maintained these beautiful landscapes
for millennia.