Armed Nomad Herders Threaten Argan Trees with Overgrazing in the South of Morocco

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Nomad herders in the south of Morocco have taken over the Anti-Atlas, Souss-Massa region, seizing the opportunity of the lockdown imposed throughout Morocco to destroy local people’s property, land and trees.

The region has drawn in nomadic herders for decades, the verdant landscapes, a major attraction, compared to the arid lands in the southeast of Morocco where they come from. a few weeks ago, these nomads, who are usually armed, took over substantial parts of the region forcibly including the ecological site of  LKEST mountain.

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The entry of nomadic herds to the summits of LKEST mountain is unprecedented, and casts an air of pessimism about the future of this site of biological and ecological interest of first class, as well as the future of the biodiversity, and the rare and endemic varieties of fauna and flora, with its medicinal and aromatic plants. It should be noted that this geographical site is located in the central zone “Zone A”, which is cited in the zoning of the Arganeraie (Argan trees) that has been designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1998.

After having previously exploited the slopes of the plain of Chtouka, Precisely Ait Baha, today these nomads are roaming in the Ammeln area, with their herds, estimated at thousands of sheep and camels. They have stormed the villages of the Tasgdlt tribes and Todma at the summit of LKEST mountain and exposed the area to an unprecedented overgrazing, that put hundred-years-old trees and the local agriculture at risk.

These assaults have taken place before the eyes of the authorities in the area, indicating that they may be hopeless in finding a way out to this issue that has been harming the well-being and the interests of the local farmers and inhabitants for years.

Faced with this disastrous situation, associations and all social communities, have decided to get  together and launch a distress call to the public opinion and to the government to denounce these dangerous and irresponsible acts as well as the silence of the government towards this issue.

Moulay Mustapha Nokraoui, an associative actor in the region and former President of The Anbdour and Imin’tizeght Association for Development and Cooperation (AIDECO) said in an interview with International Morocco:

” We deplore the violence against local people who defend their properties, while calling for respect for customary rights.”

Nokraoui called on the authorities at the national and regional levels to “to speed up the approval of the process of participative management of natural resources, according to mechanisms that have their roots in the ancestral customs of the local culture and the ancestral standards and management systems.”

He explained the absence of the process to organize the sustainable management of the natural resources of the area hastens their deterioration year after year especially due to climate change.

Nokraoui concluded that locals hope “to initiate a dialogue on the basis of a participatory approach and to lay the foundations for equitable and sustainable development in the territories of the Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve in full respect of human and citizen rights.”

 

 

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