Using Local Agroecological Knowledge in Climate Change Adaptation: A Study of Tree-Based Options in Northern Morocco
Journal article, 2018
Communities in northern Morocco are vulnerable to increasing water scarcity and food insecurity. Context specific adaptation options thus need to be identified to sustain livelihoods and agroecosystems in this region, and increase the resilience of vulnerable smallholders, and their farming systems, to undesired effects of social-ecological change. This study took a knowledge-based systems approach to explore whether and how tree-based (i.e., agroforestry) options could contribute to meeting these adaptation needs. We analysed local agroecological knowledge of smallholders from the Mè knes–Tafilalet region, to (i) characterise existing farming systems at local landscape scale; (ii) identify possible niches for farm-trees within these systems; and (iii) explore locally perceived barriers to tree-based diversification. An iterative cycle of qualitative interviews, with a purposefully selected sample of 32 farmers, revealed that socio-economic constraints and agroecological conditions in the area differed markedly along a relatively short altitudinal gradient. Agroforestry practices were already integral to all farming systems. Yet, many were at risk of degradation, as water scarcity, low profitability of production systems and uncontrolled grazing constituted critical barriers to the maintenance and diversification of farm-trees. We demonstrate the discriminatory power of local knowledge, to characterise farming conditions at the local landscape scale; and unveil adoption barriers and options for tree-based diversification in northern Morocco.
local agroecological knowledge