International Symposium on
Drylands Ecology and Human Security

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Combating Desertification in Morocco

Said Adil

Water, Forestry and Desertification Department
Combating Desertification Direction - Rabat – Morocco


Morocco’s geographical location lies between two climatic zones, the anticyclone of the Azores (to the West) and the Saharan depression (to the Southeast). This location yields a great spatial-temporal climate variation with rainfall ranging from more than 2 meters per year, in the northern heights of the country, to less to less than 25 mm in the desert planes in the South, as well as frequent periodic dry spells. The other main characteristics of the country are population increase and rural migration.
Efforts undertaken by the Moroccan government to control desertification are both important and multidimensional. Numerous plans, strategies and programs have been developed recently to cover the main fields of development, natural resources protection and the socio-economic framework of the rural world: drinking water, electrification, rural roads, basic education, irrigation, watershed management, rangeland management, development of drip agriculture, and Sites of Biological Interest (SBI).

The native population lives essentially on the exploitation of natural resources (agriculture, animal husbandry, biomass energy) and continues to substantially rely on these natural resources. They often resort to irrational practices, such as deforestation (about 31.000 hectares per year), overexploitation of lands and pastures, which are, absolutely opposed to sustainable development principles. Morocco, has understood quite early the scope of the process initiated by the United Nations and has regularly backed these efforts, leading to the design and implementation of the main international conventions of the Rio Conference (i.e. Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification).

Therefore, the National Action Program (NAP) to Combat Desertification in Morocco represents a basic tool for implementing the United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification. It was in recognition of the importance of this convention and its seminal role that the design of the National Action Plan methodically included a time chart putting ahead the preparation and the success conditions for its implementation.