MAIN PHYTOGENETIC RESOURCES OF MOROCCO AND THE MAIN THREATS
There are 4,500 plant species in the country, of which 1,000 are at risk of extinction. The woodland ecosystems comprise natural formations of leafy trees (holm oaks, cork oaks, etc.) and conifers (Aleppo pine, black pine and cedar) at the different bioclimatic levels. The oaks mostly grow on plains and foothills, while the cedar forests are to found at greater altitudes. The Moroccan fir only grows at high levels in the west around Chaouen (Rif).
Forests in Morocco occupy about 9 million hectares (9,077,195 ha), about 8% of the national territory. The harsh climate is a risk for biodiversity but the main risks are anthropogenic. Farming, forestry, fishing and tourism form the backbone of Morocco’s economic and social policy. The increase in human population, urbanisation, changing farming practices, overfishing, excessive forest exploitation, transport, mass tourism, invasion by exotic species and fires are some of the main threats for the country’s biodiversity. (3rd National Report and NBSAP).
These threats have destroyed the natural habitat for many species, endangering the viability and natural evolution of some species. Morocco’s forests have decreased by 245,350 ha over the last 10 years and the average rate of disappearance of woodland ecosystem plant cover caused by illegal deforestation and over-exploitation stands at about 31,000 ha per year.
STATUS OF IN-SITU AND EX-SITU CONSERVTION
There are 10 National Parks in Morocco: Toubkal, Tazekka, Sous Massa, Al Hoceima, Talassametane, Ifrane, Alto Atlas Oriental, Bas Draâ, Dakhla and Khnéfisse, with a total surface area of 2,649,560 ha. There is also a network of 160 sites of biological and ecological interest, 20 of which are RAMSAR sites. A total of 168 areas in Morocco have been proposed for protection.
Moreover, the country has established measures to limit the introduction of exotic species, such as controls at entry points, and to hold back invasive species, such as control of movements of species within the country. Plans in force to reforest degraded areas.
Preservation of genetic resources is one of the country’s priorities. One of the current initiatives is the creation of germplasm banks, with the aim of regenerating the status of species at risk of extinction and restoring deteriorated habitats. A number of institutions are working on ex-situ biodiversity conservation in Morocco, some of which are mentioned below.
Those that are associated with research centres and/or do their own research include the Agdal Scientific Institute, I. A. V. botanic garden in Rabat and the Botanic Garden of Fez,which is associated with the Faculty of Science in Fez. Other gardens that are adapted more to tourism or recreation are the Sidi Bouknadel or Rabat-Sale Exotic Gardens, the Jardin Majorelle, the Jardín d’Essais and the Menara Garden.
Centers of plant diversity
- Institut Scientifique (Rabat)
- Jardin Botanique de L’ Institut Agronomique et Vétérinaire Hassan II
- Fez botanic garden
- Majorelle Garden
- Jardins Exotiques of Sidi Bouknadel
- Menara garden