The areas burned in Morocco during the year 2022 are low in comparison with the areas affected in similar and neighboring countries and even with the area threatened by the fires, indicated, Tuesday in Rabat, the director of the National Agency Waters and Forests (ANEF), Abderrahim Houmy.
Speaking at the meeting of the Steering Committee for the Prevention and Fight against Forest Fires, devoted to the presentation of the results and lessons learned from forest fires during the year 2022, Houmy indicated that the past year has recorded nearly 500 fires, affecting 22,762 ha of forest area covered by fire, of which 37% consists of shrubs, herbaceous formations and Alfa.
Regarding the geographical distribution of fires, the greatest pressure is still recorded in the region of Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima with 188 fire outbreaks and a burnt area of 18,704 ha, followed by the region of Fez-Meknes with 99 fire starts and an affected area of 1,775 ha, he noted during this meeting which he chaired, stressing that this distribution is explained by the high density of forest cover in these areas, the climatic conditions during the summer season, as well as the strong pressure exerted by human beings on forest resources.
This assessment is an opportunity to take stock of all the constraints related to firefighting as well as the measures necessary to prepare for the current season, he noted in a statement to the press. , calling for greater vigilance to preserve forest heritage, property and people.
At the scale of the Mediterranean basin, the worsening of weather conditions favored the outbreak and spread of large-scale forest fires. Thus, according to data available from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), forest areas damaged by fires reached 288,086 ha in Spain, 90,158 ha in Portugal, 62,154 ha in France, 47,228 ha in Italy and 47,170 ha in Algeria.
For his part, the acting president of the National Center for Forest Climate Risk Management (CRCF), Fouad Assali, noted that for the current year, a total of 65 fires were recorded at the national level, adding that the participants in this meeting studied the measures to be taken at the level of prevention, prediction and alert, in addition to the coordination and the fight against fires by air or land.
After highlighting the central role of awareness campaigns, he affirmed that the human factor is at the origin of 95% of the fires declared at the national level, in particular the categories of population having close contact with the forest, which are called, on this occasion, to quickly inform the local authorities of any disaster for an effective extinction of the fires.
In Morocco, despite the alarming results of 2022 compared to previous years, fire prevention and control policies, adopted by all stakeholders, mainly the Ministry of the Interior, ANEF, local authorities, the Civil Protection, the Royal Gendarmerie, the Royal Air Force, the Royal Armed Forces and the Auxiliary Forces have made it possible to significantly reduce the potential socio-ecological damage during this period.
Also, the partners are aware of the need to redouble our vigilance and pursue efforts to continually improve fire prevention and firefighting policies.
To this end, ANEF has mobilized a budget of 200 million dirhams for the year 2023 for the prevention and fight against forest fires.
This budget is divided 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.
In addition, ANEF has 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. Based on 6 priorities, this plan sets out 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 this context and with a view to improving the prevention of forest fires, ANEF has reinforced the use of new technologies by developing a new web-system based on artificial intelligence and big data to map the risk of forest fires and trigger appropriate response alerts accordingly.
This system provides a daily forest fire prediction platform for the Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima pilot region, the first of its kind in the entire Mediterranean basin. It also produces a daily map of outbreak risk scores with very fine resolution, accompanied by risk explanatory information to provide valuable information to prepositioned control teams in the field, taking into account factors such as the evolution weather reports, recent satellite images, socio-economic information and the nature and condition of the forest cover.