Endogenous Berber Forest Management and the Functional Shaping of Rural Forests in Southern Morocco: Implications for Shared Forest Management Options

Abstract

On the basis of two case studies in rural Morocco, one in a mountainous area of the Central High Atlas and the other in the argan tree area of the southwest Atlantic coast, we show how local Berber populations have actively shaped their forest areas through endogenous management systems at different scales: 1) at the individual tree level by differential cutting or trimming which lead to specific conformations of the tree, 2) at the tree stand level, by determining the type, structure and level of resources, and 3) at the landscape level in which complementary patches of forest areas with particular functions are consciously organized within the overall territory. These practices are strongly linked with the overall socioeconomic organization of the local communities, and mix individual with common rights of access and uses. Forests are viewed as part of the domestic sphere of local livelihoods. Hence, they typically constitute what we refer to as rural or domestic forests since they integrate production and conservation with social, political and spiritual dimensions. These features are of importance for considering forester-local community relationships, and for developing alternative forest management policies.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The agdal Program (2003–2007) “Les agdals du Haut Atlas marocain: biodiversité et gestion communautaire de l’accès aux ressources forestières et pastorales», supported by the French Institute for Biodiversity (IFB); and POPULAR Program (2007–2010) “Politiques publiques et gestion paysanne de l’arbre et de la forêt: alliance durable ou dialogue de dupes?”, supported by the French National Research Agency (ANR-06-PADD-014).

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Acknowledgements

This study was conducted as a collaborative project involving the Laboratoire Population-Environnement-Développement (IRD-Université de Provence, Marseille, France) and the Faculté des Sciences Semlalia (Université Cadi Ayyad, Marrakech, Morocco). We are grateful for their financial support to the Agence Nationale de le Recherche (ANR-06-PADD-014) and to the Institut Français de la Biodiversité (IRD-IFB/INRA n 2886). We appreciate the help of Hubert Mazurek in formatting figures. Special thanks go to anonymous reviewers of Human Ecology for their useful comments, as well as the Editorial Board for his generous effort in improving wording.

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Correspondence to Didier Genin.

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Genin, D., Simenel, R. Endogenous Berber Forest Management and the Functional Shaping of Rural Forests in Southern Morocco: Implications for Shared Forest Management Options. Hum Ecol 39, 257–269 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-011-9390-2

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Keywords

  • Agdal practices
  • Forest shaping
  • Rural forest
  • High Atlas
  • Argan forest
  • Morocco