This study explores the association between individual beliefs in local Islamic Saints in the High Atlas of Morocco and the use of the environment. This exploration is done within the framework of a traditional institution of natural resource management, based on the regulations (called Agdal) of access to common pastoral resources. Research methods included participant observation and interviews during several stays between 2003 and 2008 among the Amazig (Berber) people of the Mesioua tribe, and a survey of 80 households in the village of Warzazt. Our data show an association between the transformation of traditional individual beliefs in local Saints and new agro-pastoral practices that have previously been linked to the disappearance of Agdal-managed pastures and biodiversity loss. We conclude that, in addition to the more material dimensions of climate change, population increase, migration, or expansion of cash economies, religious beliefs should also be taken into account when analyzing the use of natural resources and agro-pastoral change processes. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
- Communal resource management