Our ‘Supporting Cultural Practices in the Mediterranean Basin’ project has been highlighted in the MAVA Foundations 2014 annual report.
Nature and culture are inextricably linked in the Mediterranean, which is why, in 2012, a number of organisations led by DiversEarth, joined forces in the Mediterranean Consortium for Nature & Culture1 to examine the different ways in which cultural practices benefit nature and support conservation.
Those organisations are : Asociación Trashumancia y Naturaleza, DiversEarth, Doga Dernegi, Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos (Med-INA), Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL), and WWF North Africa, with the technical support of IUCN.
Liza Zogib, founder of DiversEarth, believes that for a sustainable future in the region, it is vital to support such practices before they disappear.
Frequently ignored by the conservation community, ‘cultural conservation’ may be key for a more sustainable future because it encourages and builds on existing local practice rather than imposing an outside view. This is especially true in areas where a ‘Western’ conservation approach may not always be appropriate.
Transhumance, the ancient seasonal movement of people and livestock in search of food and water, is of particular interest as a means both of sustainable resource use and maintaining ecological connectivity. The Consortium is examining how policy, education, science and communities can together support and nurture this practice as well as benefit conservation.
Drover roads and grazing areas support a great variety of plant and animal habitats, and transhumance contributes to woodland and pasture regeneration, helping reconnect fragmented or isolated patches of habitat. Moving herds fertilise soil, spread seeds, cause an increase of the prey population which is food for wolves and other carnivores, and allow efficient use of resources such as pasture and water.
“Ritual, belief and traditional practice across the Mediterranean reveal a deep connection to the
land and water. They’ve shaped the landscape and the way people relate to it for millennia,
and often underpin a life led in tune with nature.”
Hope for a vanishing way of life
King Alfonso the Wise recognised herders’ legal rights in Spain in 1273 but across the Mediterranean drover routes and water sources are now being fragmented by road building, agriculture, irrigation projects, and even protected areas. Nevertheless, practices such as transhumance that offer a sense of freedom inspire deep devotion and pride, giving hope for the next generation, as Liza Zogib explains.
“I met a young Sarikeçili nomad in Turkey who, despite the challenges and with ten years of education, had chosen the life of the nomad. His choice was not economic but guided by his connection to the land, his goats, and his way of life.”
A picture speaks a thousand words
Celebrating the knowledge and lives of the Mediterranean’s nomadic pastoralists, the project’s travelling photography exhibition, ‘On the Move’, brings transhumance to life for expert and lay
audiences alike and shows how the practice can at once conserve nature and reinvigorate local culture.
Source: Mava foundation Annual Report 2014 , Published on 15/5/2015
Download the report here