HIGH ATLAS CULTURAL LANDSCAPES
SCIENTIFIC & SENSORIAL FILMS TRIOLOGY
The landscapes of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco have been shaped by millennial relationships between humans and nature. Rural communities still maintain ancient practices, including seasonal transhumance, traditional irrigation systems and communal management of pastures and plants, which sustain the unique biodiversity of this extraordinary cultural landscape. As researchers we work together with Global Diversity Foundation whom supports High Atlas rural communities to maintain and restore their traditional practices while enhancing their livelihoods and sustainably managing their lands and resources in the context of rapid change. Our primary partners are the Amazigh communities we collaborate with in the High Atlas communes of Ait M’hamed, Imegdal, Oukaimeden and Ourika.
Problems Addressed: Rapidly changing climatic, economic and social realities increasingly threaten traditional knowledge and practices, alongside the landscapes they relate to. Increasingly severe droughts, decreasing monetary rewards from traditional agriculture and pastoralism, and massive rural exodus contribute to the erosion of cultural values and community cohesion. The difficulties of making a living in the harsh High Atlas environment contribute to unsustainable resource use, reduction of biodiversity and a loss of interest amount the younger generation in traditional knowledge and practices.
AIT ATTA:NOMADS OF THE HIGH ATLAS
An audio-visual, sensorial exploration, a scientific film research project "The Ait Atta: Nomads of the High Atlas".
Photographs and Documentary Film by Eda Elif Tibet & Inanc Tekgüc.
The Bin Youssef family migrates forth and back each time a year from the desert (their home location, Nkob, Morocco) to the green pastures of Igourdane so to reach the opening of the Agdal, a traditional system of communal natural resource management. Agdal, is defined to be a system of seasonal prohibitions that limits access to one or more agro-sylvo-pastoral resources in order to allow the resources to recover from direct and indirect human pressure during the most critical period of growth.
Mobile pastoralism is a prominent form of land use in most of the world’s dry lands. As national boundaries shift and nature reserve use expand, pastoralists are at risk of being displaced from their lands. For mobile pastoralists to adapt and be resilient, access to information is needed more than ever before particularly to sustainably manage their lands. With participatory audio-visual research methods, mobile pastoralists can acquire knowledge, observe and document land use and changes in the political discourses. With the right tools and information, mobile pastoralists can improve resilience, mitigate and better adapt to environmental stressors and international threats. Our communication project thus intends to empower communities to find venues where they can raise their voice and find legislative and practical support in sustaining and improving their livelihoods. Since participatory films can be used as non-text policy arguments and address a wide array of spaces out of the confines of the formal our communication project could raise awareness, break prejudices, create further solidarity among transnational communities and inspire an ongoing active public debate on the major themes this project intends to communicate with its target and wider audiences.
The major aim of this transdisciplinary participatory media project is to communicate and explore the importance of local knowledge on mobile pastoralism. We contribute to ongoing debates about challenges and changing perceptions of nomadic life by transforming the stages of film-making into a learning and communication platform. We facilitate a social learning process and create opportunities for recounting and sharing transformational knowledge on mobile pastoralism and communicate the methods themselves.
The Bin Youssef family migrates every year from the desert-like landscape of Nkob to the green pastures of Igourdane. With their goats (number around 800) , donkeys, mules, camels and dogs, each summer they embark on a formidable journey of resilience by foot. Overcoming difficult weather conditions with hot and dry days and cold nights, with limited access to food and water, the family makes their way through uneven terrain with steep climbs and descents, to reach the agdal before the official opening where all the right holders are allowed to take their livestock into the pastures. As part of this traditional system of communal natural resource management, the Ait Atta tribe preserves their ancestral right of access to the agdal dating back hundreds of years, even if it is often times denied and challenged by the villagers settled around. A sensorial ethnographic film on the incredible movement and (im)mobilities of the family and their herd, the film juxtaposes the hopes and constraints, obligations and sacrifices of a family torn apart between their traditions and their need to adapt to modern life. Stretching over the past, present and the future, the film provides an untimely intergenerational perspective on the essence and the very challenges of nomadism within an ever transforming Moroccan society.
The High Atlas Cultural Landscapes Scientific Sensorial Films Trilogy is co produced in collaboration with KARMAMOTION & GLOBAL DIVERSITY FOUNDATION. The Programme is funded by the MAVA Foundation in Switzerland and the Darwin Initiative in the UK.