Conservation in Morocco

 

I recently had the privilege of visiting Morocco.  Picture freshly stitched quilts of farmland laid onto rolling hills  slumping in the shadow of the Atlas Mountains… only to be outdone by the Sahara Desert. Your brain may struggle to create a sense of place because it feels like being in the South of France, Spain, Africa, and The Middle East all at once.24B267A9-0BDF-4825-A740-F3116D0C6566

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The route from Fes to Chefchauen (the northern city )

My favorite part of the trip was road tripping from Fes to Chefchauen. The journey took 4 hours and wound us through the beautiful north side of the countries farm-land and mountains. We passed through valleys stuffed with wildflowers and waterfall fed lakes. While on the drive I noticed a sign that read, “Protected Aleppo Pine Forest”.  I began to wonder about what conservation efforts were taking place in Morocco. Morocco’s unemployment rate hovers at 9%,  thus I mistakenly assumed that conservation would fall very low on the governmental ‘to-do-list’. and yet…

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Notice the newly planted Argon Trees along the hillside

Morocco’s Highway Authority makes every effort to conserve and plant new trees along its highways. In fact, the cost of planting new trees is preset into the cost of each highway(1). Anouar Benazzouz, the highway chief for Morocco, states that 25% of the money to plant and conserve trees comes from the taxpayer, while the other 75% comes from debt (1). In a country facing wide-scale desertification, every inch of tree cover matters because the trees provide “services” to the community. For example, tree roots combat desertification by compacting the soil. Meanwhile the branches provide habitat and shield against the wind, and the leaves produce oxygen. However, not all trees are in the running to be planted. Benazzouz explains that the Highway Authority is extremely intentional about which trees are planted, selecting trees that are both native and profitable. Most notably, Argon trees are chosen for their longevity, canopy coverage, and precious oils. The oil produced is harvested and sold by locals as a source of income (1). Despite the lack of monetary assistance, Benazzouz tackles his tree planting initiative with a sense of urgency that stems from his respect for Morocco’s beautiful environment.

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All in all, he stated,

“Africa can play a big role when it comes to climate change; it has to be a priority on this continent. We don’t need to make the same mistakes that other countries have made before us.” (1)

In a world of increasing globalization and fast-paced change, it’s necessary for developing countries to practice environmentally conscious industry instead of descending down the same ole emission-spewing path towards modernity. Now that we understand the detrimental effects of  industrialization, it’s our duty to encourage and assist developing nations in implementing these practices. For example, many developing nations, like Morocco, are located in hot , sunny latitudes. Thus helping these countries install solar panels to offset the demand for carbon-based power sources would be a great place to start.

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What do you think? Should developed nations help developing countries foot the cost of green industry? Let’s talk about it!

sources: (1) Available at: https://news.mongabay.com/2016/11/morocco-plants-millions-of-trees-along-roads-to-fight-climate-change/

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