Traditional management of natural resources: agdal
The agdalamazig/berebere is a traditional system of management of natural resources which has existed resiliently for centuries and probably millennia all over North Africa, and therefore merits transdisciplinary study of social and natural sciences like we do in Human Ecology. The agdal is the seasonal prohibition of access to a place or natural resource (a kind of fallow land, to give renewable resources a short break). The Yagur territory where this photo was taken by Nicolas Montes with Pablo Domínguez and the Franco-Hispanic-Moroccan team of the “agdal” project, is a herding area 50 Km to the Southeast of Marrakech at an altitude between 2,000 and 3,600 m, and is governed collectively by a large part of the Mesioua tribe.
In the specific case of Yagur, the agdal established there prohibits herding during about three months starting on the 28th March, which coincides with the local spring season. The aim of this age-old ban is to allow flowering, pollination, production of new seeds and recovery of the plant species during their most sensitive growth period, as well to maximise pasture for an equal access to said resources, because the dates and rules of access are decided collectively by all users in a common pool.
At the same time, merely focussing on the productive side of the agdal would not give the complete picture. Beyond the idea of an agrarian-economic tool, the agdal is a cultural element made up of a system of symbolic, religious, ethical and aesthetic references, which transform the agdal into an accurate reflection of the amazing mountain culture and make it a totally social happening. In fact, the ritual regulation of the agdal made up a large part of this system, and the yearly bans of the agdal were often announced and justified by descendants of saints, who even received offerings of bags of cereals, butter, cuscus, or livestock sacrifices, and they in turn shared these products with everybody and distributed baraka (holy blessings) to all participants in the ritual.
Pablo Domínguez. Ecólogo Humano. CRNS, Touluse