Mohamed Benata writes from Morocco:
The Estuary of the Moulouya, located on the Mediterranean coast between Saïdia and Kam Koum El Baz, was listed and classified in 1994 as a Site of Biological and Ecological Interest (SIBE) by the Department of Water and Forestry (Ministry of Agriculture, Maritime Fishing and Water and Forestry). In 2005, on the proposal of the government, was registered on the Ramsar list of Wetlands of International Importance, a list under the Intergovernmental treaty called “Ramsar Convention whose mission is “the conservation and wise use of wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution to achieving sustainable development worldwide. Morocco joined this convention in 1980 and has so far designated 38 wetlands.
In legal terms, the Moroccan government has strengthened the status of protection of natural environments following the enactment of the Law No. 22-07 on protected areas and its implementing orders. Therefore, any action, inside or outside the site, that could directly or indirectly threaten the sustainability of its ecosystems is strictly prohibited.
The many scientific studies conducted in the wetland have explicitly demonstrated that its biodiversity is constantly deteriorating and several ecosystems and species have reached an ultimate stage of degradation. For example: increase in the salinity of groundwater and surface water, loss of the largest coastal forest of Tazegraret in just a few years, mortality of standing red juniper trees, advanced erosion of the shoreline and shrink of the dune, drying of the chrarba swamp as well as the blind channels the Moulouya river and recently and for the first time in the known history of the site, the bottleneck linking Moulouya to the sea is completely seal off.
The causes of this situation are known and identified in a formal way which include:
- Reduction of water supplies (dams, public and private pumping stations)
- Anarchic exploitation of natural resources
- Pollution (standard of the wasewater treatment plant of Saïdia and industrial units)
- Developments that are incompatible with site landscapes (coastal road, flood protection channel of the city of Saidia)
Based on this observation, the Moroccan associations for the protection of nature and wetlands coalition, concerned about the future of Moulouya estuary wetland, invites the government and regional officials to take the necessary measures to save this natural and cultural heritage by :
- Ensuring a minimum ecological flow to ensure the survival of the ecosystems and the biodiversity of the site that depends on it.
- Adopting good governance in the management of water resources and avoiding any new infrastructure that may exacerbate further the situation in the wetland of the Moulouya estuary.
- Reinforcing the protection status of the site in accordance with the government’s commitments at the international level:
- Intergovernmental Ramsar Convention which Morocco joined in 1980.
- Convention for the preservation of biological diversity.
- Agenda 2030 of Sustainable Development and in particular the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) N° 6.
The signatory associations:
- Groupe de Recherche pour la Protection des Oiseaux au Maroc GREPOM/Birdlife Maroc ;
- Espace de Solidarité et de Coopération de l’Oriental ESCO ;
- Société Protectrice des Animaux et de la Nature SPANA ;
- Association Marocaine des Photographes Animaliers ;
- Groupe d’Ornithologie au Maroc
- Association Nature Solutions
- Association des Enseignants des Sciences de la Vie et de la Terre
- Association Anafis pour l’Environnement
- Association Khnifiss
- Association Nationale Maroc des Amis de l’Environnement
- Association Talassemtane pour l’Environnement et le Développement ATED
- Association Nature Initiative
- Association Bir Lahlou pour l’Environnement et le Développement Durable
- Association AMNIR pour la protection de l’Environnement et de l’Animation Touristique
- Ecolo Plateforme du Maroc du Nord
- Association Homme et Environnement
- Association des anciens élèves de Madagh
- Association Moulouya pour l’Environnement et le Développement