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Newsletter  September,  Issue 2019-2 
Meet Touda, our community researcher from Aït M’hamed
Touda (in pink) during a plant collection day in the field
Three years ago, Touda Atyha started working as a community researcher with Global Diversity Foundation and local partner Moroccan Biodiversity and Livelihoods Association (MBLA) in the rural High Atlas community of Aït M’hamed, where she was born. She enjoys working with the people she knows while discovering the cultural diversity and natural richness of the region she grew up in. “I like everything that is related to the environment, plants and raising awareness about their importance, especially endangered plant species,” she says. During specific times of the year, Touda collects plants and seeds for storage in the community herbarium and seed bank. This preserves seed quality and ensures the availability of traditional varieties for local farmers. She also organises focus groups to identify important and valuable plants that support local livelihoods. “Our work is not only contributing to the conservation of local biodiversity, but also provides important opportunities for the community and its development”.

Another important part of Touda’s work involves carrying out surveys on local plant uses and land management practices such as agdals, which are communally-governed highland pastures used for seasonal grazing or foraging. “Local community members have a wealth of knowledge to share regarding traditional practices, land management and wild plant use” says Touda. “I was born and raised in Aït M’hamed and I continue to learn new things from members of the community every day.”
Touda (left) during an interview on traditional recipes
We invite you to read about our work in the High Atlas in our Global Diversity Foundation Annual Report 2018.
In April, we organised the second edition of our High Atlas Biocultural Diversity Fairs at the annual Moussem festival in partner commune Aït M’hamed. Besides joining the traditional festivities, we carried out interactive workshops on topics of interest to community members, including local gastronomy and traditional recipes, wild plant use and beekeeping practices.
Did you know that at least 104 diurnal butterfly species are found in the Moroccan High Atlas? Butterflies are key indicator species for monitoring ecosystem health. In June, we invited two experts for an exciting two-day workshop on monitoring techniques and best practices. The team received training in catching, identifying and monitoring butterflies through practical in-the-field exercises.
In June, we concluded our second year of weekly garden trainings at the Dar Taliba boarding house for girls. During the past academic year, we delivered a total of 46 trainings to the 143 students in residence on the topics of cultivating organic crops, composting, taking plant cuttings, mulching, making organic fertiliser and much more.
Our field team carried out a participatory evaluation of the challenges of agroecology in the rural communes of Imegdal and Aït M’hamed. In collaboration with our partners MBLA, Deafal and Rockin Soils, we met with local farmers to identify current challenges and needs and to collect agronomic and social data to design a Farmer Field School programme, which will kick off this December.
If you are interested in learning more about our wide-ranging programme in the High Atlas, you can visit our website to read stories on our plant conservation research and the species we are cultivating in our community plant nurseries, as well as reflections on a research internship in the High Atlas.
Pommelien, GDF Mediterranean and Communications Coordinator with #MedStoryPrize runners-up Oumaima and Salma in the Dar Taliba garden
Promoting sustainable land-use practices in the Mediterranean 

In April, Rooted Everyday—a new conservation campaign aimed at raising awareness about the value of biodiversity and traditional practices in the Mediterranean—launched the very first Mediterranean environment-themed writing competition. #MedStoryPrize called for inspiring stories that both celebrate the rich cultural and natural heritage found in Mediterranean ecoregions and help raise awareness about the urgency of preserving it.
The children’s competition—which consisted of two age-based categories (8-13 and 14-18)— closed last month. Participating schools were thrilled with the outcome of the competition, and we are excited to share the winning stories from Morocco with you. Read “The Missing Message” and “The Garbage Monster” here.       
Visit the Rooted Everyday website to learn more about conservation projects in the Mediterranean, and sign up to receive updates on upcoming events and campaigns.
In 2019, we have been building on the intensive development efforts that took place last year to expand the Global Environment Network (GEN)’s programme of work, outreach and impact. Watch this Prezi presentation on GEN: our story so far and plans ahead.
A local project with global support helps reduce malaria-related deaths

Last year, we launched a new initiative on Indigenous Amazonian Health and Wellbeing, partnering with longtime friends of GDF, ethnobiologists Eglée and Stanford Zent. The HAWAPO project (hawapo means medicine in Piaroa) facilitated the design, manufacture and transportation of insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets, essential medicines and supplies to three remote Jotï, Eñepa and Piaroa communities in Venezuela. Read about it here.

7–11 September 2019: Flourishing Diversity Series 

Indigenous Peoples' wisdom traditions hold many of the answers to some of our most pressing contemporary issues, like the climate crisis and environmental protection. It is essential we learn them, and take heed, at a global-scale. As part of a GEN partnership, we are supporting the Flourishing Diversity Series: a series of events across London that builds collaboration and helps us see what we can all do to better live in harmony with the delicate systems of this planet, our only home. GEN is leading the Gaia Spirit Movement: a moving meditation on ecological justice for all. Everyone is welcome and it’s free to register.

14–25 September 2019: ALLSA Peru

The second Latin American School for Food Systems Resilience (ALLSA) on Transformative socio-environmental learning: fostering food systems innovation grounded in pluricultural dialogue will take place in Cusco, Peru. ALLSA 2019 is designed to broaden and deepen our understanding of food systems, understood as socio ecological systems, through participation, collective learning (“peer-to-peer learning processes”), multi-cultural dialogue and comprehensive and holistic understanding.

5 October 2019: Farming, Food and Climate Justice March

As part of a second GEN partnership, we are supporting and helping promote this year’s Farming, Food and Climate Justice March with Land Workers' Alliance. Its focus will be to showcase the role agroecology can play in solving the climate crisis.

6–10 October 2019: Meditteranean Community Exchange (MCE)

As part of the Capacity Building and Transformational Education Overarching Initiative, we are organising the Mediterranean Community Exchange (MCE) on Biocultural Diversity Monitoring in the Moroccan High Atlas. The Exchange will focus on the development and implementation of monitoring protocols that unite cultural and biological diversity. It will also include the theme of ‘long-term ecological monitoring’ and how this approach may be applied within Mediterranean Cultural Landscapes. 

Global Environments Summer Academy (GESA) 2020 

Plans are coming along nicely for the ninth GESA, which will take place in August 2020 in Oxford and a rural location (TBC) outside of London. We will be exploring themes of: alternative economics; working with our grief for positive transformation; effective communication tools for breaking down polarising conversations, breaking down race, gender discrimination and oppression within oursevles and our work places, and much more. Sign up for our GEN newsletters to receive notices on GESA 2020.

Thank you for all you do to support a world where difference is respected, celebrated, and supported.
Emily Caruso, Director of GDF UK
For more on our work in the Mediterranean and around the world, visit our websites—Global Diversity Foundation and Global Environments Network—and sign up for our newsletters. Also, please join us on social media for more regular updates! To support our other work, you can donate to our online fundraising campaigns or directly to Global Diversity Foundation by PayPal, credit card or cheque.
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