Morocco is threatened by fires this summer and as the Aid Al Adha holiday approaches. The danger linked to the departure of forest fires declared to be of human cause, weighs on the country which is going through a difficult period of drought with direct consequences on the purchasing power of Moroccans.
The scenario of last July which saw forest fires having decimated thousands of hectares across the Kingdom must be avoided at all costs. July 2022, Morocco experienced the start of fires in several regions of the country, starting in the north.
Nearly 500 men from the Waters and Forests, Civil Protection, local authorities, Royal Armed Forces, Royal Gendarmerie and Auxiliary Forces were mobilized and did an extraordinary job of overcoming several forest fires started over the same period.
In mid-July, the charred body of a person was found near Larache, and more than 1,100 families from douars near the forests were evacuated as a preventive measure because of the proximity between the flames and their places of residence. Three firefighters were killed in northern Morocco in mid-August while trying to put out the flames.
Forest fires had curiously started simultaneously in different localities. The firefighters spent Eid Al Adha fighting the impressive fires that had broken out the day before and raged the following days. The National Center for Forest Climate Risk Management had declared that there was no doubt about the “human” factor that caused these environmental disasters.
These forest fires, which ravaged the forest cover in several regions during the month of July, broke out during the two hottest months of the year in Morocco when the mercury had reached more than 40 degrees.
This year, and as Aid Al Adha approaches, known for its braised meat and barbecue dishes and a trend among some locals who prefer to organize their family meals outdoors choosing the surrounding forests rather than indoors , the risk of fire declaration is amplified.
The high temperatures currently experienced by Morocco, even if they remain normal for the season according to the General Directorate of Meteorology (DGM), are, with the gusts of wind, two key elements favoring the start of fires.
In its strategy to fight forest fires, Morocco has made the acquisition of Canadairs a priority. The kingdom acquired it for the first time in 2011 and just before the fires of 2022, it had 5 operational ones before launching an order for 3 others whose delivery is not yet fully finalized.
Despite an arsenal of control and intervention, anticipatory measures must be taken to reduce the risks. These measures can go through awareness-raising operations with the inhabitants of the douars surrounding the forests, and the prohibition of access to the forests throughout the period covering Aid and after Aid in order to prevent the inhabitants from contributing or cause fires, even unpremeditated or by negligence, in such circumstances.
Morocco cannot afford to lose even more forest areas, especially when we know that the country has already experienced two years of drought with disastrous consequences for the level of dams, for agriculture, drinking water in households and on fruit and vegetable prices.
The cocktail of drought, heat, forest fires and desertification is one of the main threats to the future of Moroccans, and especially to their food security. And the recent declarations of Abderrahim Homi, Director General of the National Agency for Water and Forests, indicating that approximately 92% of the Moroccan area is threatened by the phenomenon of desertification, because of the arid and semi-arid climate which characterizes the country, are an indication of the seriousness of the situation.