Global Diversity Foundation

GDF has a dual mission. Through our regional programmes, we support indigenous peoples' and local communities' efforts to protect their biocultural diversity, and peacefully achieve just and autonomous decision-making regarding their territories, resources and futures. In collaboration with diverse institutions, we provide support for communities to elaborate their own research, development and advocacy programmes. Areas of specific focus depend on community interests, although they tend to be community access to lands and resources, community-led conservation, advocacy and campaigning for social and environmental justice, the continuity of ethnobiological and biocultural knowledge...
Jan 9, 2017

Revitalizing biocultural landscapes and supporting changemakers in northwestern Mexico

NACELE 2015 participants create collaborative art
NACELE 2015 participants create collaborative art

This winter in the North American program, we focus our attention on supporting biocultural landscape revitalization in northwestern Mexico. Across Mexico and North America more generally, revitalizing landscapes requires thoughtful and conscious engagement with the Indigenous communities for whom these lands are traditional territories. At Global Diversity Foundation we understand that people are embedded within, and are not separate from the landscape. Revitalizing biocultural landscapes therefore means working to strengthen the capacity of Indigenous communities who are the caretakers of these lands.

This February, we are organizing a North American Community Environmental Exchange (NACELE) in Sonora, Mexico, on the theme “Collaborating for Change: Strategies for the Protection of Biocultural Landscapes.” This event will provide a training, networking and discussion space for Indigenous community leaders, in a context of rapid climate change and at a moment when adaptive community capacity to confront biocultural threats is crucial. Land and water grabs and extractive industry projects currently threaten the health of Indigenous territories in northwestern Mexico. This in turn threatens the well-being of Indigenous communities. NACELE 2017 will offer workshops from expert facilitators on a range of topics relevant to the protection of biocultural landscapes, including community organizing, coalition building, Indigenous rights, food and water sovereignty, and more. NACELE 2017 will be a space for participants to share stories of struggle and resistance, and will lead to media outputs that will highlight the work of Indigenous communities to care for their territories.

Participants in this event will gain membership into the Global Environments Network, comprised of a growing number of dynamic environmental changemakers working to solve socio-environmental problems around the world. As GEN members, Indigenous community leaders will have access to a strong network of support and diverse expertise that they can mobilize to enhance the impact their work in their communities and globally.

NACELE 2017 is one event in a larger landscape of ongoing actions for territory defense and Indigenous sovereignty in Mexico. For example, the Yaqui community of Loma de Bácum, Sonora is currently engaged in a struggle to protect their territory from the construction of an unwanted gas pipeline. GDF friend and NACELE collaborator Anabela is a Yaqui human rights lawyer who has been a strong community leader in this struggle. In December, Anabela and her husband were kidnapped for their community organizing work and vocal opposition to the project. They have since been released but remain in danger, along with others in the community who are working to stop the pipeline's route through their territory.

Loma de Bácum is struggling to gain international attention for their situation, and Anabela has asked for GDF's support. We are working to bring a solidarity delegation of Standing Rock water protectors to Loma de Bácum, to raise awareness, build relationships, and strengthen the bonds of Indigenous solidarity across North America. Water protectors have voiced interest in travelling to Loma de Bácum and lending a hand to maintain the momentum of Indigenous self-determination generated at Standing Rock. Donations received for this project via GlobalGiving over the coming three months will be directed to covering travel costs incurred for the solidarity delegation, and supporting Loma de Bácum with costs associated with hosting. You can read our detailed statement on this initiative here.

With your support, we continue our work to increase the capacity of environmental changemakers in northwestern Mexico and beyond.

NACELE participant visions of healthy landscapes
NACELE participant visions of healthy landscapes
Jan 8, 2017

When your enemies walk on air, it's time to make peace: a story from Dusun Territory

"...their feet did not touch any of the rocks."
"...their feet did not touch any of the rocks."

When your enemies can walk on air, it’s time to make peace: a story from Dusun Territory

The illustrated set of Ulu Papar oral histories and tales collected by Dusun community researchers is nearing completion—the illustrations in this report, by Imelda, are taken from the first proof of the volume, complied and translated by Shinobu at Gakushin University with support from GDF staff and the Kazadusun Language Foundation. The Dusun text is shown here, interspersed with Imelda's illustrations. Your support will enable it to be printed and distributed.

In this report on these oral histories and legends, we share a short story with you, and the contemporary context for the feats it recounts, and how it reached you. The story features two folk heros of mutiple tall tales, Kadui and Sidui. Kadui, we learn in another story included in the book, was so strong, he once jumped the river in a single bound, carrying his wife on his back. In this tale recounted by Angeline in an interview with community researcher Jiloris, for once Kadui and his brother find themselves outmatched.

Chapter 5 Kadui & Sidui

As Angeline tells it, "During a time of war between the villages of Kionop and Tiku, two brothers from Kionop, Sidui and Kadui, were known to be the strongest and most feared warriors. In Tiku, Lumingou and Binagal, also siblings, were the strongest; Lumingou was the elder of the two. Sidui and Kadui were eager to kill Lumingou and Binagal. One day, they travelled to Tiku River to spy on Binagal and Lumingou. When they reached the river, they saw Lumingou and Binagal walking together on their way to fish. But what they saw surprised them and they did not dare not approach the duo; as Luminggou and Binagal walked along the river, the bottom of their feet did not touch any of the rocks. Kadui and Sidui hid themselves and watched quietly, letting Lumingou and Binagal pass them without making any contact. Kadui and Sidui returned to their village because they felt they were unable to match the strength of Binagal and Lumingou. They held a meeting and slaughtered a pig, agreeing not to fight anymore."

In the Epilogue to Ulu Papar Tales, I reflected on the context of these stories of strength, conflict and peacemaking on Dusun territory:

"Since 2004, Indigenous Dusuns living adjacent to and within the Crocker Range Park in the Malaysian state of Sabah have been collaborating with government and non-government organisations on matters concerning their ancestral lands and territories. These collaborations have focused mainly on the use of natural resources as a livelihood source for their communities and the conservation of biodiversity. Using applied research and outreach methods learnt through projects enabled these communities to collaborate in investigations on issues of importance to them. Participants addressed protected area management, the development of methodological approaches for ethnobiological assessments of community-use areas, and the development of a collaborative management agenda for protected areas in this region. Working with Sabah Parks, Global Diversity Foundation and PACOS Trust, they carried out research on patterns of local resource use, valuation of landscapes, indigenous ecological knowledge, and the impact of subsistence strategies on areas adjacent to, or inside, protected areas.

The contents of this booklet are a direct result of these communities in action. Community researchers, trained through the projects funded by the Darwin Initiative, interviewed village elders and used their skills in participatory video (a community filmmaking approach). They documented tales of origin, war, heroism and much more, transforming oral histories of Ulu Papar into the written word. Some of the researchers, including Jenny, an author of previous reports, continued these efforts beyond the eight-year span of the projects with support from GlobalGIving donors.

How do these stories connect to work to protect Dusun ancestral lands and territory?

The Ulu Papar community is no stranger to defending their lands, which they have managed and looked after based on their Adat (customary laws) and culture for generations. In 2009, a proposal for the construction of a mega-dam in Ulu Papar was put forward. The dam threatens the continued existence of Ulu Papar communities by putting villages and significant parts of their traditional territory under water. The people of Ulu Papar united in a fierce fight to voice their opposition to the project, confidently citing important cultural and biological features that would be affected by the dam. Their fighting spirit has not ceased. To date, through the Task Force Against Kaiduan Dam, their protests continue through peaceful direct action--community members blocking access to their villages--and active social media presence.

The oral histories revealed by Ulu Papar elders demonstrate their people’s long and continuous presence in the area. Alongside other research results, these stories have contributed to a valuable base of knowledge on Ulu Papar. Guided by their village leaders and other community members, community researchers developed successful outreach activities to share the rich evidence of Dusun presence and belonging in Ulu Papar. They designed roadshows, an on-site biocultural congress, and outreach sessions to government and non-government agencies. These have instilled pride in the community and appreciation of the special character and features of Ulu Papar.

Thank you for reading. Let’s continue to protect this important biocultural heritage site in Sabah!

"Kadui and Sidui hid themselves and watched...."
"Kadui and Sidui hid themselves and watched...."
"In Tiku, Lumingou and Binagal... were strongest."
"In Tiku, Lumingou and Binagal... were strongest."
"They held a meeting and slaughtered a pig..."
"They held a meeting and slaughtered a pig..."
Dec 6, 2016

Relationships, past and present

Mohamed El Haouzi teaches herbarium preparation
Mohamed El Haouzi teaches herbarium preparation

This has been a busy few months for Dar Taliba. There have been exciting opportunities to build new partnerships, and also to do some hard work in the gardens. As we'll hear from Mohamed El Haouzi, Director of Projects in Morocco for Global Diversity Foundation, working in the gardens is also an opportunity to reflect on and fondly recall past partnerships and supporters of Dar Taliba.

Firstly, we are pleased to announce that Dar Taliba has been asked to participate in the Edible Schoolyards Project, a platform that connects educators around the world to build and share a curriculum that places food systems at the core. It is very fitting that this connection began over food – when GDF's Director Gary Martin had dinner in California a few weeks ago with Alice Waters, the famed American chef, creator of Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkelely and founder of Edible Schoolyards. Alice took an interest in Dar Taliba and requested that the school be featured as a project on the Edible Schoolyards website – see our page here. We are excited to explore the Edible Schoolyards platform further, and become part of a growing global network of 'edible' education programs. We are certain there will be exciting opportunities for cross-fertilization and mutual learning in this network that will deepen and enrich the experience of the girls at Dar Taliba. 

Dar Taliba was also recently featured in a short video on the Eco@Africa program of Deutsche Welle (DW), a German international broadcaster. The video 'Relearning Lost Traditions in Morocco' highlights the important work the girls are doing to revitalize and reimplement local plant knowledge that has been passed down through the ancestors. This exposure is a great way to show the world the importance of Dar Taliba, and also allows the girls to see that their knowledge is valued. Thank you, Edible Schoolyards and DW, for helping us co-create this important narrative about the essential work at Dar Taliba to preserve traditional plant use.

And now for an on-the-ground update, we asked Mohamed to tell us a bit about the last few months at Dar Taliba. Mohamed has worked with Dar Taliba of Ourika since 2003, and has been an important part of the project's growth and success. He reports,

“At the beginning of September, I took over the management of the gardens of Dar Taliba, which had suffered from a very hot summer marked by hot winds and lack of water. There was a lot of work to be done to restore all the gardens, so I met with the gardeners to give them the necessary instructions and direction.

The ornamental garden built was completely weeded and cleaned. The aromatic garden has been completely restored after weeding and cleaning, and the missing aromatic plants will be replaced after the current period of cold weather. The vegetable, aromatic, and ethnobotanical garden, built according to the permaculture processes, was also weeded and cleaned up. And, always following the processes of permaculture, turnips and peas were planted in this garden. Very soon, beans will be planted, as well as other vegetables.”

Mohamed recalls that the ornamental garden they cleaned was created in 2003 with the help of Ground Force, a BBC garden series that involved a surprise garden 'makeover'. Ground Force surprised Hassan Ouardagh (the coordinator of the ABDBO association that created Dar Taliba) with the creation of the ornamental garden that he had always wanted for the girls. The garden was created in three days, and Mohamed attended the construction. Indeed, he still keeps the thank-you letter that he was given by the producers of Ground Force.

We remain grateful for all our partnerships and relationships, past and present, that have allowed Dar Taliba to thrive and have brought increasing attention to the important ethnobotanical work of the students. We look forward to branching out and making more connections in the future!

Gently watering seedlings in the new greenhouse
Gently watering seedlings in the new greenhouse
Permaculture design in action
Permaculture design in action
 
   

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