As part of the festivities commemorating the 80th anniversary of the creation of Toubkal National Park, the Oukaïmeden Observatory, the Atlas Dark Sky Foundation and their partners are organizing an awareness day followed by an evening of sky observation, on August 15, 2022, at Plateau of Oukaïmeden, with group visits to the Observatory. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness about preservation of the quality of the sky at Oukaïmeden, one of the best astronomical observation sites on the planet and where several world-class telescopes are already located.
The date chosen falls within the so-called “Transhumance” period, when shepherds from neighboring villages bring their herd to the Oukaïmeden plateau for grazing. This is therefore an opportunity to get in touch with the local population to raise awareness of the concept of the starry sky or Dark Sky. This anniversary is also the occasion to launch a set of nature animation activities which since the spring of 2022 have been organized by the management of the Toubkal Park.
The kick-off of the celebration of these 80 years of creation of the park was given at the headquarters of the province of Al Haouz under the chairmanship of the Governor, and the Secretary General of the Department of Water and Forests (now Director General of the National Agency for Water and Forests (ANEF) since 1er August 2022) in the presence of various players in the territory, including elected representatives of local authorities, professionals, scientific research institutions, external services and civil society.
It has therefore been 80 years in this year that the Toubkal National Park, dean of the Moroccan National Parks, was born. Also, the Directorate of Toubkal National Park in collaboration with many partners from the spring has sought to pay tribute to this unique protected area. This is how the Toubkal National Park hosts many festivities (nature events, photo exhibitions, sporting events, open days, etc.) intended for all lovers of this exceptional territory.
Jbel Toubkal, which “some accuse us of having stolen” for the anecdote, is the highest point in North Africa with its 4,167 meters of altitude. It was in 1942 that Jbel Toubkal gave its name to the first national park of the Kingdom of Morocco. It extends over nearly 39,000 ha, the Toubkal National Park is located 70 km south of Marrakech, in the portion which corresponds to the Adrar n’Dern (mountain of mountains) in the central part of the High Atlas. , between the valleys of N’Fiss to the west and that of Ourika to the east.
With an exceptional biodiversity, this park welcomes many visitors, who can discover plateaus and cliffs that alternate with gorges, where rivers with crystal clear waters flow, providing irrigation in the valleys and plains of the foothills. . Like all protected areas in Morocco, the management and development of the Toubkal National Park falls under the Department of Waters and Forests (Ministry of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries, Rural Development and Waters and Forests).
As a reminder, the “Atlas Dark Sky Morocco” foundation is a partner like others (Cadi Ayyad University, Oukaimeden Observatory, etc.) in the organization of festivities in Morocco on the wake and the spirit of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) which aims to raise awareness of light pollution, has the ambition to create a unique project of its kind at national and even international level. It consists of creating an international dark sky reserve covering a large territory including the Toubkal National Park.
An International Dark Sky Preserve, as defined by the IDA, is an area which possesses dark skies of exceptional quality and which is subject to protection for scientific, educational, cultural or other of nature preservation.
There are only 12 dark sky reserves certified by theInternational Dark-Sky Association (8 in Europe, 2 in America, 1 in Africa and 1 in Oceania). With a radius of approximately 50 km, the dark sky reserve of Mont-Megantic in Canada is the largest in the world.
But if the Atlas Dark Sky Morocco project is accepted, the International Dark Sky Reserve in Morocco will be the first reserve in North Africa and the largest in the world in terms of area with a radius of about 80 km. Faithful to its socio-economic and environmental responsibility, Cadi Ayyad University aims, through this project, to stimulate the movement of sustainable development in the wake of COP 22 organized in Marrakech in November 2016.
All citizens located in the targeted area will benefit from the expected social and economic benefits. Several studies have shown the impact of light pollution on health, the economy, the energy bill, in addition to the quality of the night sky and the preservation of many nocturnal animal species living in this region.
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