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...
Jul 12, 2016

Connecting for change through the Global Environments Network newsletter

Gary receives the International Planetary Award.
Gary receives the International Planetary Award.

In 2011, the Global Diversity Foundation (GDF) organized the very first Global Environments Summer Academy. In the years that followed, four summer academies (one more in Germany and the following three in Switzerland), a regional academy in Latin America and two community exchanges in North America were carried out under the auspices of the Global Environments Network. Ever since the inaugural gathering, we have been inspired by the camaraderie displayed by the groups of individuals from diverse academic, geographical and professional backgrounds. Through all these events, the GEN alumni Network/group has grown to approximately 200 people who continue to collaborate, learn from each other and create change across the globe, building on the vibrant connections made during the events. 

To assist this process, we launched a community-exclusive newsletter earlier this year, spearheaded by GESA alumna and GEN Coordinator, Silvia, who collaborates with GEN alumni and GDF. Three newsletter issues have been circulated to date.

In the latest release, we showcased GEN Director, Gary Martin, who recently received an International Planetary Award at Tage der Zukunft (Days of Future) 2016. The award recognizes people or institutions who have created outstanding initiatives in the field of innovation and in efforts of co-creation of possible and sustainable futures for humanity. He says, “I was honored to accept this award, which recognizes the efforts of all the unique individuals who are part of the Global Environments Network”.

The Updates section in the bi-monthly GEN newsletter, focused entirely on the people who are the core of the Network, announces new births (adding to the next GENeration), fellowships and funding attained, publications released and online features, ongoing projects, and many more. The newsletter also highlights opportunities to connect in person at events such as at the IUCN World Conservation Congress to be held September 1-10 in Hawai'i and the Climate Change COP22, November 7-18 in Marrakech. The newsletter is also intended as a space for sharing and launching Network-based projects and collaborations.

Response to the newsletter has been overwhelming, as noted by Janelle, a GESA 2015 alumna from Canada. She said, “I do have to say, I love the newsletter. I read it every time. …. I love how it is so positive, and just lifts everyone up who is in the Network. Like celebrating Jessica for her PhD, and other things like that… it’s so nice to receive all the good news.” We are appreciative of this feedback, and are excited and motivated about creating more opportunities for connection.  

Full photo caption:

Christof Mauch, co-director of the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, presents the International Planetary Award to GEN Director Gary Martin.

Jul 11, 2016

Japanese outreach programme connects culture, art and eco-tourism

Youth engage in preserving their environment
Youth engage in preserving their environment

The DISSOLVA 2016 Borneo Project, Gakushuin University’s Overseas Outreach Programme, is about to start with a fresh new group of students. With thanks to community leaders and youth from Ulu Papar, in early May this year we conducted a study tour to Kinabatangan to learn about the essentials of community-based ecotourism and also had a meeting in Buayan in preparation for the summer.

The inspection visit to Sabah, held 2 - 9 May, provided an opportunity for the Buayan community to learn from the community in Mukim Batu Puteh and to prepare for the future. 'For us the timing was crucial', says Shinobu, 'as from 2017 onwards, Gakushuin’s formal involvement through our outreach programme ends so we would no longer be able to support such experiences anymore."

To help the community start up community-based eco-tourism (CBET) in Buayan, we envisage 11 interrelated projects to be pursued during the project this summer (from 4 - 22 August): tree planting; waste water treatment; office renovation; signage development; society registration; homestay registration; handicraft-making; mapping; oral history publication; a CBET study tour; and a CBET exhibition.

In relation to the oral histories publication project initiated by local community researchers, we met with Imelda and Jenny, who are now leading the project, discussing details of the Ulu Papar folklore storybook publication in four languages and a Sabah community-based ecotourism exhibition in the local district library. The manuscript of the folklore tales is now with Buayan-born UMS history researcher Imelda who is working to complete translations into English, Malay and the Dusun dialect used in Buayan. When the basic translation is finished, it will be translated into Japanese by Gakushuin University students, with the aim to make the end result a quadrilingual publication.

To kick off efforts using this meaningful cultural outreach tool, we are planning a presentation of these stories this summer to the students of SK Buayan, the primary school in Buayan. One possibility is to do this in the form of a play. Combined, arts and culture are a powerful force that can change the reputation and the trajectory of a community.

 

Photo caption:

An eight-year collaboration among Dusun communities, local government authorities and NGOs fostered the emergenceof youth as community researchers with the capacity to actively engage in efforts to preserve their environment. Jenny, one of them from Buayan, co-led the GlobalGiving project on oral histories, building on intensive efforts carried out during the earlier collaboration.

Jun 7, 2016

GDF's New Ethnobotanical Permaculture Garden for Dar Taliba: From Planning to First Harvest

GDF
GDF's new garden at Dar Taliba ready for planting

A lot has happened at Dar Taliba during the past three months. 

This past January, Global Diversity Foundation broke ground for the ethnobotanical and permaculture garden after a meticulous design process that brought together the expertise of a local permaculture consultancy and the input of local community stakeholders, including the girls residing at Dar Taliba.

GDF prides itself on adopting a participatory approach that values and applies the traditional ecological knowledge and know-how of the communities it is working with while introducing new ways of doing things to complement customary and local methods in a changing world. Introducing permaculture to the Ourika Valley through an educational ethnobotanical garden is an instance of such a multifaceted approach.

Drawing from the patterns observed in natural ecosystems, permaculture seeks to make agriculture a sustainable practice that is permanently in dialogue with its socio-ecological surroundings.

The first step in implementing the permaculture ethnobotanical garden at Dar Taliba was to collect pertinent quantitative and qualitative data. We started by interviewing Abdelmalek, a native of the Ourika valley and head gardener at Dar Taliba, about the site’s history, the soil’s nature, any microclimates within the parcel and the region’s weather patterns. Then we surveyed the 1100 m² parcel in order to understand its topography. Using laser level measurements, our permaculture collaborators determined that the plot of land 'showed a slight convex promontory profile and curved contour lines' with a very slight downward slope along the south to north axis. These naturally occurring contour lines became an integral part of the design plan and served as a framework for the cultivation beds and other elements, including the compost area and greenhouse.

Surveying the parcel also shed light on water circulation within the plot and informed our decision to place the garden’s composting area at the parcel’s highest point in order to allow for any nutrients trickling from the compost piles to be absorbed by the plants grown downstream.

The next phase in the process was to mark the parcel and start the compost heaps. Our anaerobic compost pile was made using manure, straw and plenty of water. Using manure as fertilizer is very common practice in the Ourika valley yet composting is not and it was with great interest that Abdelmalek and other gardeners and day laborers working on the garden learned about the method with the intention to recreate it for their own vegetable patches. It was particularly exciting to see local community members’ interest piqued by the composting process because one of GDF’s hopes in planting the edible ethnobotanical garden at Dar Taliba is for it to not only serve as an educational tool for the girls residing at the boarding house but also as a demonstration site that the community at large can learn from.

With the compost launched, we proceeded to landscape the parcel’s cultivation beds and build the greenhouse. We built the structure’s frame using eucalyptus poles purchased from a local wood seller and had a local metal smith make the door and window frames. We then used agricultural plastic to insulate the greenhouse and we recycled wooden pallets into potting tables. The greenhouse was also retrofitted to harvest rainfall by using a conduit to channel water from its roof to a barrel refurbished with a faucet. Through introducing simple strategies like rainwater harvesting to the gardens at Dar Taliba and thereby the Ourika Valley, GDF seeks to equip the local community with tools to mitigate the impact of climate change in an area already affected by water scarcity.

The plant nursery, cultivation beds and compost were ready just in time for the sowing season and we have since planted beets, onions, radishes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, pumpkins, corn, and alfalfa among other things.

Before the school year’s end, GDF organized a workshop for the girls residing at Dar Taliba with the help of our permaculture collaborator. During this workshop, the girls were invited to harvest the ripe produce from the garden and water the plants while learning about mulching, composting, nitrogen fixing plants and the benefits of polyculture farming.

We hope to install a sustainable water supply over the summertime, and have the gardens ready for the next school year.

Plan of GDF
Plan of GDF's new garden at Dar Taliba
Abdelmalek and our permaculture collaborator
Abdelmalek and our permaculture collaborator
Terracing the parcel according to its topography
Terracing the parcel according to its topography
The greenhouse while under construction
The greenhouse while under construction
Dar Taliba residents pleased with their harvest
Dar Taliba residents pleased with their harvest
The girls and our collaborator during the workshop
The girls and our collaborator during the workshop
Group photo from GDF
Group photo from GDF's workshop at Dar Taliba

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