The MAB Programme has been granting awards of up to $5,000 each to young scientists since 1989.
By El Baz Abdessamad
Rabat – Ihssane Toujgani, a Moroccan researcher, has received UNESCO’s annual scholarship for up to $5,000 for her work on “Characterization and enhancement of local genetic resources of the common chestnut tree (Castanea sativa Mill.) in the Mediterranean Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve.”
An alumni of Agronomic and Veterinary Institute Hassan II (IAV), Toujgani, is one of the seven winners of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Young Scientists Awards this year. The list also includes two winners from Africa.
Isaac Yaw BARNES (Ghana) has received an award for “Using storytelling through a geo-story map to highlight Bia River Biosphere Reserve’s anthropogenic effect on community livelihood and adaptation”.
While Kazeem JIMOH (Nigeria) has won the award for his research on the “Impact of green economy in biosphere reserve project (GEBR) as an alternative livelihood source on the poverty status of Omo Biosphere Reserve communities”, according to UNESCO.
A Biosphere reserve is conservation of plants and animals which exist in a specific place and are of interest to researchers and interests.
Morocco is home to several Biosphere reserves including the ARGANERAIE Reserve, established in 1998, which covers more than 2 million hectares “bordered by the High Atlas and Anti-Atlas Mountains and open to the Atlantic in the west.”
Another Moroccan Biosphere reserve is the OASIS DU SUD MAROCAIN. Started in the year 2000 and situated in the east of Morocco, it covers 7 million hectares and is home to the Heritage Site of Ait-Ben-Haddou.
Shared between Morocco and Spain, the Intercontinental Biosphere reserve of the Mediterranean, designated in 2006, is ”the first of its type to be designated by the Man and the Biosphere Programme. It combines the Tingitane Peninsula in Morocco and the southern Iberian Peninsula of Andalusia.”
Finally, the Atlas Cedar (Cèdre de l’Atlas) (2016) “is characterized by a wealth of ecosystems and mountain peaks, which reach up to 3,700 m, providing the region with critically important water resources, fruit plantations, modern agriculture, and tourist activities”, according to UNESCO.
Scientist Ihssane Toujgani joins a list of Moroccans who have won international awards this year.
Mostapha Tarfaoui won France’s National Energy Globe Award on June 6 for his work on deicing. While Said El Mejdani, a computer science teacher in Canada, won the Prime Minister’s Teaching Award for Teaching Excellence on May 2.