In order to improve the prevention and fight against forest fires, the National Agency for Water and Forests (ANEF) has developed, with its partners, a new Action Plan for the period 2023-2033, with a budget envelope of 200 million dirhams just for the year 2023.
The Steering Committee for the Prevention and Fight against Forest Fires thus met on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, under the chairmanship of the Director General of ANEF, Abderrahim Houmy, in order to present the results and the lessons learned. forest fires during the year 2022, as well as the examination of the means and measures to be put in place for the summer season 2023.
This meeting, which was held at the National Center for Climate and Environmental Risk Management, focused in particular on the presentation of the new Intersectoral Master Plan for Integrated Management of Forest Fires 2023-2033.
” It is an annual meeting that allows us to take stock of the situation of forest fires across our country. This year, we took stock of the fires of 2022, which was an exceptional year, not only on a national scale but also on the scale of the Mediterranean basin.“, explains Houmy to MoroccoLatestNews.
For the manager, it was an opportunity to bring out some useful information for good management of forest fires and to take stock of the preparations for this year, a year which promises to be a little difficult to date but we hope, with the mobilization of all partners, to properly manage these fires“.
This is in particular, according to the DG of ANEF, an opportunity to raise awareness among the general public in the run-up to the national day of awareness against forest fires, on May 21, with all the partners which will ” allow us, of course, to go further in good management of forest fires“.
It should be remembered that the national forest estate is subject to various pressures that are increasingly detrimental to the major roles it plays on the social, economic and environmental levels. These pressures result in an increased risk of fires starting, especially since Moroccan forests are, like Mediterranean forests, extremely flammable during the summer season due to several factors, including the increase in temperature.
The situation of forest fires for the year 2022 at the national level reports about 500 fires, affecting 22,762 ha of forest area covered by fire, of which 37% is made up of shrubs, herbaceous formations and Alfa, while 133,000 ha were saved. It is also the largest burned area recorded since 1960.
According to ANEF, forest fires have broken out in almost all regions of the Kingdom, but the greatest pressure is often recorded in the Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region with 188 fire starts and an area of 18,704 ha. , followed by the Fez-Meknes region with 99 fire outbreaks and an affected area of 1,775 ha.
It should be emphasized that, despite this alarming assessment, the fire prevention and control policies adopted by the Ministry of the Interior, ANEF, local authorities, Civil Protection, the Royal Gendarmerie, the Royal Forces Air, the Royal Armed Forces and the Auxiliary Forces, have made it possible to significantly reduce the potential socio-ecological damage in 2022.
On the other hand, the drought and the long heat waves to be expected during the 2023 summer season are factors to be taken into account and the partners are well aware of the situation and the need to make more efforts to strengthen policies. prevention, forecasting and raising public awareness of the risks and dangers of fires.
The ANEF has also drawn up, in collaboration with the various partners concerned, a new Master Plan for the Integrated Management of Forest Fires for the period 2023-2033. The plan is based on 6 priorities and sets the actions to be implemented over the next decade for the prevention and fight against forest fires while taking into account the predicted impacts of climate change.
In his statement to MoroccoLatestNews, Abderrahim Houmy revealed that the new Master Plan “ allows us first of all to consolidate all the gains that we have been able to make. Morocco has acquired a long experience in this field. It was also an opportunity to refine a certain number of coordination actions with all the partners, but also to focus on the funding needs, the legislative and organizational needs that will act in the direction improving the effectiveness of forest fire fighting“.
It should be noted that the Agency has allocated a total budget of 200 million dirhams for the year 2023 for the prevention and fight against this phenomenon. This envelope is broken down into several preventive and operational actions, including the maintenance of firebreak trenches, the development of water points, the opening and rehabilitation of forest tracks, the construction and maintenance of lookout posts, the mobilization of fire watchers and also the purchase of first response vehicles.