Sustainable living in the High Atlas Mountains.
The High Atlas Mountains dominate the southerly views from Marrakech and in particular during the winter season when the snow covered peaks carve out a magnificent panoramic vista on the skyline. This is home to many Amazigh families in remote villages. They farm the land using time honoured methods and traditions. Once a seafaring people, they yearned for a place to make a peaceful sustainable living; they needed water and building materials. The rivers that are formed from snow-melt and seasonal rainfalls have created a labyrinth of fertile valleys hidden in the mountains and were the ideal location for these people to begin their land based life. They started with cereals and grain crops, slowly building terraced fields up on the mountain slopes and used the clay earth to build simple adobe homes and shelters.
Trees were introduced and the staples of walnut, almond, apples and cherries now thrive and are a major part of their income.
Animals are often the lifeblood for these remote rural families too, sheep and goats can be seen grazing on steep slopes, but the cow is the prized animal as it provides so much. The women will take them every day to a selected pasture, or they will go and collect leaves and carry them back.
I asked how these people manage to survive in this harsh and remote environment. Walnuts, agriculture and the cow, I was told. The walnuts are collected in late autumn, stored and sold off when there is a lean period, the cow is an investment, several may be bought and one will be sold off to provide income in the winter. These people live a self-sufficient lifestyle, they are happy, very hardworking and totally connected to the land, they know the mountains, the wild flora and fauna and the weather.
Now with new roadways being built to connect these villages with nearby towns, there are more opportunity for trade, for work and for children to go to schools. Trekking in these mountains will bring you in direct contact with these wonderful friendly villagers and as I know, we all want to help in some way.
Help has to be sustainable, meaningful and responsible. Trees need replacing from time to time, animals too, so these are the resources I am focusing on.
As a company, we will donate a % of your trek price to our "buy an animal fund" or to buy saplings. From our courses that we run, we will donate €10 for every participant; that means a group of 10 attending a course can make a big difference in the lives of a family or village.
What you can do to help remote mountain villages: Help has to be sustainable, meaningful and responsible. Trees need replacing from time to time, animals too, so these are the resources I am focusing on.
Recently serious flash flooding has also highlighted a need for considerable reforesting with suitable and indigenous trees to stem the erosion. I hope to set up some tree nurseries as a long term project and introduce permaculture methods to harvest water.
You can Sponsor any of the following:
Saplings for walnuts, apples, olives, almonds, carob, eucalyptus, peaches, quince and cherries.
A cow or calf.
A lamb or kid.
You can also help with community building projects while you are on holidays here and to improve schools and build new ones where none exist. These include schools where there are none, wells for water and walls. Once we start with permaculture systems, help will be most welcome.
One of our Tree Projects
Life Changing Sustainable Community Projects have a wide reaching impact.
In the High Atlas Mountains, many villages are helped by tourism, there are many more that are off the beaten track and benefit very little or not at all. These are the ones I focus on. I look for ways to provide sustainable long lasting community projects that have a far reaching impact but without damaging the delicate indigenous culture and lifestyle. Planting sapling trees does that as it provides work, fruits, wood and helps stop erosion.
In 2016, our annual Muslim women group from America and a woman from Wales( who donated the money she was going to spend on her Christmas cards) chose to help this village.
Trees need water, and so do people… the people in Douar Tagadirt n´Ait Ali where we planted the 300 donated sapling olive trees in 2017 asked for help in funding the building of a reservoir to hold water for the trees and also to provide much needed water for daily use in the village as they are on a mountain side and far above the river. Also to help build a concrete route and mule track up through the village.
By providing help with projects like this, we empower the villagers to have an income which in turn means they can pay to educate their children.
By supporting our projects, you are making a direct positive difference in the lives of a whole village. All of the funds raised will go to the Association in the village that deals with community projects, this way, funds are used to benefit the entire community in a sustainable way.
Get in touch if you would like to know more, or have an idea to help with a village community.