Known for its rich biodiversity and stunning landscapes, Morocco faces wildfires ravaging its forested areas.
Forest fires in Morocco have severely damaged forest cover and led to the loss of countless hectares of virgin forests.
Not only are forests important carbon sinks, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but they also support diverse flora and fauna, protect watersheds and provide livelihoods for many communities. The destruction of these ecosystems continues to upset nature’s delicate balance, leading to a cascade of ecological consequences.
by country National Agency for Water and Forests (ANEF) There were more than 182 forest fires in 2023, with over 1,200 hectares of forest burned. Last weekend, about 25 hectares of the 300-hectare Rumailat forest burned before firefighters put it out.
Forest fires have reduced biodiversity and threatened native plant and animal species that have already adapted to Morocco’s unique climate.
With habitat destruction, for example, of endangered species such as the Barbary macaque and Moroccan Atlas cedar, these animals are at greater risk of extinction. In addition, the loss of forest cover continues to impair the land’s ability to store water, leading to soil erosion, lower water quality and increased susceptibility to flooding.
The increase in the frequency and intensity of forest fires in Morocco can be linked to several factors, including the rise in global temperatures due to climate change. Higher temperatures have led to drier conditions and created an environment conducive to the start and spread of wildfires.
Human activities such as agricultural practices, deforestation, and improper waste management contribute to wildfires.
Unregulated land use practices, urbanization, and the encroachment of human settlements into natural areas increase wildfire risks. As the population grows and infrastructure expands, the potential for man-made fires increases, adding to the challenges facing Morocco’s already fragile ecosystems.
Realizing the urgency of the situation, Morocco has taken proactive measures to mitigate the impact of wildfires and increase the resilience of its forests.
The North African country has invested in modernizing its firefighting capabilities. This includes the use of the Canadair CL-415 aircraft, which are well designed to fight wildfires.
In addition, the country recently allocated US$22 million to forest fire prevention and control to intensify its fight against wildfires.
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