The Minister of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries, Rural Development and Water and Forests, Mohamed Sadiki, said Monday that the total area affected by forest fires in several regions of the Kingdom has reached 10,300 hectares.
In response to oral questions in the House of Representatives on “the causes and repercussions of the forest fires that have occurred in certain regions of Morocco”Mohamed Sadiki noted that the area that was threatened to be completely ravaged by the flames is almost 123,000 hectares, adding that the fires almost touched in the region of Larache, homes of more than 5,200 families, and that 35 douars were threatened.
The Minister also assured that the fires are under control so far, with the exception of a forest fire which broke out on Monday afternoon in the municipality of Tazrout and which is supported by “Canadair” planes, noting that there are some outbreaks in the affected areas which break out from time to time but which are contained thanks to the rapidity of the necessary ground and air interventions, the top priority of which is the preservation of the lives of the responders and local populations.
On this occasion, he commended the efforts of the forest firefighting teams belonging to the various sectors and central, provincial, regional and local institutions, who worked with discipline, professionalism, close coordination and speed, and according to a strategy well traced for more than 8 successive days, in order to ensure the effectiveness of air and ground interventions against fires.
They are a total of 4,200 elements of Waters and Forests, Civil Protection, Royal Armed Forces, Royal Gendarmerie, auxiliary forces and local authorities, agents of National Promotion as well as volunteers, supported by trucks of firefighters, water tanks, rapid response vehicles, ambulances, machinery and bulldozers that helped contain the fires.
Mohamed Sadiki also mentioned the intervention of five canadair planes belonging to the Royal Air Forces, eight “Turbo-Trash” planes and helicopters belonging to the Royal Gendarmerie, adding that “drones” belonging to the National Water Agency and Forests were used for the first time to monitor fires and prioritize air and ground response after reviewing and analyzing infrared images.
In the same context, he pointed out that Morocco has a National Forest Climate Risk Management Center and an integrated national forest fire control plan approved by all institutional partners, and which takes into account all the factors causing the fires, relying on effective field interventions based on a proactive approach to detection and early warning for all stakeholders.
He specified that this plan revolves around two axes, the first concerns the field of forecasting and prevention, while the second concerns the fight against fires and rescue.
The first axis, he said, depends on the allocation of funds necessary to finance the annual programs, to ensure the equipment and the means able to reduce the departures of fire, to collect the data and to store them in a system dedicated to the development of constantly updated forest fire maps that identify the areas most exposed to fire risks in collaboration with the General Directorate of Meteorology, and the establishment of annual awareness programs of the local population to the consequences of the fires.
As for the second axis, it is based on the intervention in continuous coordination with the various partners concerned, and through several levels according to the speed of spread of the flames, through the mobilization of rapid intervention teams at land and air level. , supported by planes belonging to the Royal Air Force and the Royal Gendarmerie specially equipped to fight fires, with the identification of strategic priorities on the ground in order to preserve the health and safety of responders and protect the lives of the population communities and their assets as well as the natural environment.
Pursuant to the High Royal Directives, the Head of Government, Aziz Akhannouch chaired, last Friday in Rabat, the signing ceremony of a framework agreement for the implementation of a series of urgent measures aimed at mitigating the impact of recent fires on agricultural activity and forests, and to provide support to the local populations affected, at a cost of 290 million dirhams.
This agreement, which aims to mitigate the impact of the fires that occurred in July 2022 on the population, includes the taking of various measures, in the short and medium terms, with a view to providing support to the population for the repair of dwellings. that have been identified by the public authorities, in particular to launch reforestation operations on some 9,330 hectares.
The agreement also covers the creation of 1,000 additional job opportunities in the Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima Region, dedicated to the people affected and their family members to work in the Awrach program sites.