Since 1994, the North Africa Biodiversity Programme (NABP) has aimed at promoting the conservation of biodiversity in North Africa; developing the sustainable use of natural resources; empowering local communities, in particular women, in biodiversity conservation; as well as creating a platform for sharing experiences and exchanging knowledge and information.

Local communities, such as the Bedouins in Egypt, possess an invaluable knowledge of nature. A compendium, containing scientific information on more than one hundred plant species in North Africa, focused on endangered and economically useful medicinal and aromatic plants. It aimed at promoting their conservation through the promotion of indigenous knowledge and the equitable participation of people in their management.

Economic value of medicinal plants

As part of the project, medicinal and aromatic plants were cultivated in nurseries, where trials of propagation were undertaken. The knowledge acquired was then transmitted to the local communities. In Algeria, pilot projects linked the cultivation of medicinal plants, rural development and gender empowerment. Four farms run by women committed to growing medicinal plants on their prime arable land in order to sell them to local herbalists, thereby improving their revenue.