Morocco’s efforts to preserve biodiversity and natural ecosystems go hand-in-hand with its vision to promote renewable energies and combat climate change.
Rabat – Morocco’s Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Environment launched a campaign to raise awareness about the country’s biodiversity and the importance of Morocco’s natural ecosystems on the occasion of the World Environment Day, celebrated on June 5.
The campaign, launched under the theme “time is nature,” hopes to highlight biodiversity and its economic, social, and environmental role, as well as the impact of its degradation on human health.
“Morocco, thanks to its privileged geographic location, the diversity of its climate and habitats, and its paleontological history, boasts a wide variety in ecosystems and in animal and vegetal species, with a remarkable biological richness,” the ministry wrote in a press release.
Morocco is home to 24,000 animal species and 7,000 plant species, with an endemism rate—the rate of species unique to the country—of 11% for fauna and 20% for vascular plants. The figures make Morocco the country with the second-highest rate of unique species in the Mediterranean region, the ministry revealed.
The kingdom is also the 12th global exporter of aromatic and medicinal plants. It counts 400 plant species known for both aromatic and medicinal uses, as well as 800 species known for one of the two uses, the press release added.
According to the ministry, Morocco’s biodiversity is tightly linked to the diversity of its ecosystems. The country counts 36 different ecosystems, including the Argan Biosphere Reserve, in central Morocco, which is unique in the world and earned recognition from UNESCO.
Besides the Argan trees region, UNESCO recognized three other Moroccan natural reserves—the Oases of Southern Morocco Biosphere Reserve, the Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve of the Mediterranean, and the Atlas Cedar Biosphere Reserve.
After presenting the environmental diversity of Morocco, the ministry warned against the degradation of ecosystems, especially in this period of time marked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the ministry, several international studies have revealed that the destruction of natural habitats can lead to the transmission of diseases between animals and humans.
Morocco’s measures to preserve biodiversity
The press release then presents the measures and actions Morocco has taken to preserve its ecosystems, such as the establishment of 10 natural parks and 154 Sites of Biological and Ecological Interest (SIBE), as well as the registration of 38 wetlands as Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention.
Morocco has also developed several programs to preserve and restore species and their habitats, the ministry said, giving the example of the northern bald ibis.
According to the ministry, the National Park of Souss-Massa, in central Morocco, hosts the last reproductive wild population of northern bald ibises in the world—a population of 708 birds, including 147 nesting couples.
The final section of the ministry’s presentation tackles the legal and institutional efforts Morocco has made to protect ecosystems, including the establishment of laws to control protected areas, the trading of wild fauna and flora, transhumant pastoralism, and access to genetic resources.
Morocco has also created a National Committee for Climate Change and Biological Diversity to develop and implement a national biodiversity policy, the press release recalled.
Other initiatives to preserve biodiversity are ongoing or in planning, the ministry concluded.