Morocco braces for high temperatures and wildfire risks

Morocco braces for high temperatures and wildfire risks

Following a period of relative respite, temperatures are once again on the rise in several Moroccan regions, triggering concerns among residents about the looming threat of wildfires, particularly in light of the recent events in Algeria.

On Thursday, the General Directorate of Meteorology issued a warning bulletin, predicting a new heat wave across the country, with temperatures expected to range from 33 to 47 degrees Celsius, starting from Saturday and lasting until the following Tuesday.

The bulletin, signaling an orange-level vigilance, highlighted that temperatures in the provinces of Fahs-Anjra, Mdiq-Fnideq, Chefchaouen, Tetouan, Nador, and Driouch, located in the Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region—one of the most vulnerable to wildfires—could reach between 33 and 39 degrees Celsius from Saturday to Monday.

In addition, meteorologists anticipated temperatures ranging from 42 to 44 degrees Celsius in the provinces of Beni Mellal, Fakih Bensalah, Kalaat Sraghna, Taroudant, Guelmim, Ouarzazate, and Tinghir. Meanwhile, the regions of Tata, Errachidia, and Zagora may experience even higher temperatures, ranging from 44 to 47 degrees Celsius.

Mohamed Benabou, a climate and environment expert told MoroccoLatestNews AR that with each new heat wave, the risk index for wildfires spreading over vast forested areas increases. He disclosed that currently, the country is facing an average of five to six fires per day, destroying approximately 1,200 hectares of forests. However, he warned that this figure could escalate in the coming days and weeks if the heat wave persists.

Benabou attributed the increased occurrence of fires to successive years of drought, which have contributed to significant changes in climate and raised the likelihood of multiple fire hotspots igniting concurrently. He emphasized that Morocco’s situation is not far from what Algeria experienced recently, given the shared climatic changes. However, he noted that Morocco’s capabilities and intervention efforts in controlling fires could make a crucial difference, as they may prevent a repeat of last year’s severe wildfires.

Abd al-Rahim Handov, an environmental expert, acknowledged that the possibility of wildfires occurring during the summer is always a concern. He stressed the need to intensify efforts in raising awareness and educating citizens about the hazards of fires. Handov urged increased support for the National Agency for Water and Forests, as it plays a vital role in mitigating such incidents. He noted that the agency has been grappling with a decreasing number of human resources, which hampers its effectiveness.

The expert emphasized the significance of swift intervention and having an adequate number of personnel on hand to control fires promptly. Handov also warned against behaviors that could contribute to forest violations, such as discarding cigarette butts or cooking in wooded areas, as these seemingly insignificant actions could result in devastating disasters.

He pointed out that recovering a forest to its pre-fire state takes decades, and with the impact of climate change, some forests may be lost forever. This, in turn, can lead to soil erosion, desertification, and the loss of vital resources provided by the forests. As awareness remains a crucial factor, he urged everyone to be vigilant and mindful of their actions to protect Morocco’s precious natural resources.


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