Morocco to Plant 600,000 Hectares of Forests by 2030

Moroccan date oasis. Photo: Pixabay

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As part of the new national agriculture program “Forests of Morocco 2020-2030,” Morocco’s Department of Water and Forests plans to plant 600,000 hectares of forests across Morocco by 2030.

King Mohammed VI launched “Forests of Morocco” as a new development strategy for the agricultural sector in February under the umbrella of “Green Generation 2020-2030.”

“Green Generation 2020-2030” aims to create new income-generating activities that mainly target young people in rural areas, and seeks to encourage the development of the agricultural sector. The development strategy is based on two main foundations: To mobilize one million hectares of land and create 350,000 jobs, and to promote human and social development.

Read also: Morocco Launches New National Programs for Agriculture, Forests

Minister of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries, Rural Development, and Water and Forests, Aziz Akhannouch, chaired on December 17 Forests of Morocco 2020-2030’s steering committee’s third meeting. The central directors of the ministry’s Department of Water and Forests were also present at the video conference, where participants discussed the program further and illustrated its objectives.

The department will initiate the strategy by planting 50,000 hectares per year and will reach 100,000 hectares per year by 2030, according to a departmental press release. Various forests across Morocco will see the plantation of Argan, cork oak, holm oak, thuja, cedar, carob, eucalyptus, and pine trees, among other forest species.

To achieve these goals the department outlined a program to internalize, professionalize, and secure the plantation process, upgrade facilities, and secure the seed areas of all native species.

Forests of Morocco 2020-2030 plans to modernize four seed station laboratories, empower seedling production companies, start a forest seed certification process in collaboration with the National Office of Sanitary Safety of Food Products (ONSSA), and create an agreement with the National Seed Marketing Company (SANACOS) to establish a storage mechanism for cork oak acorns.

By 2030, Morocco’s Department of Water and Forests hopes to produce 460 million plants with 54 of its forest species nurseries eventually entrusted to the private sector.

2020 damage to Moroccan forests

Besides continued deforestation in Morocco and overexploitation of grazing areas, Morocco witnessed many forest fires in 2020 that contributed majorly to the deterioration of Morocco’s forest land, especially in August when the climate was hot, dry, and windy.

Read also: Wildfires in Morocco: Fire Ravages Date Oasis Near Errachidia

On September 10 a wildfire broke out near the Fahs-Anjra province in the Al Hrarech forest, which primarily consists of Aleppo pine trees, damaging dozens of hectares of vegetation.

On August 2, a fire ravaged the forest of Haouz al Mellaliyin in M’diq, northern Morocco, damaging 1,024 hectares of forest. Just a couple of weeks after, on August 26 a fire hit the tourist destination of Tighmert oasis in the southern Moroccan province of Guelmim, resulting in material damage and killing many livestock.

The same day of the Tighmert forest fire, another wildfire broke in the Akesmae forest in the town of Bab Berred, near Chefchaouen, due to the hot weather, and destroyed over 300 hectares of forest. In the same month, on August 27, a major wildfire broke out at Ghiraya State Forest in the province of Al Haous, nine kilometers from Marrakech, destroying 54 hectares of forest land.

By the end of August, a fifth wildfire in Morocco broke out in the oasis of Ksar el Gara in the province of Aoufous, near Errachidia, destroying several hectares of the date oasis.

Forests of Morocco 2020-2030 comes to develop Morocco’s forest spaces and strengthen their productive capacities, preserve biodiversity, as well as create direct jobs and increase the annual income of ecotourism.