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Tourism, desertification threaten Moroccan lake

Tourism, desertification threaten Moroccan lake

Morocco

Drought and climate change is likely to claim a freshwater lake in Morocco. Thousands of birds that migrate between Europe and Africa refuel at this lake.

Considered a national treasure due to its rich biodiversity, environmentalists fear rising temperature could consume the lake entirely.

Bouchra El Asr is an Engineer at the Regional Directorate of water and forests and the fight against desertification North West in Kenitra.

The role of this forest is to keep the sand where it is.

“All of this site is in a basin, a basin which is bordered by two dune bars. And the dunes are made up of sand, of course. The substratum here is a sandy substratum. So, if we pictured this area without the forest, without the juniper bushes, without the evergreen shrubs , without the small trees , well — all the city of Kenita, even the city of Mehdia — all the infrastructure there, there would be a risk of siltation. So really, the role of this forest is to keep the sand where it is”, she said.

The freshwater lake stretches through the Sidi Boughaba reserve, some 7 kilometres from the city of Kenitra. It was declared a natural and cultural site in 1951. But sadly, tourism is taking its toll on its survival

“The number of visits has exceeded the capacity of this reserve, so visitors have become a threat to biodiversity. There are many species of plants in danger of extinction, some animals have left this area due to inadequate living conditions, there are animals that are born here and have become a threat to the environment and there is also pollution in the forest and at the lake”, said Bouchafra Abdeslam, Secretary General of the Spana association for the protection of animals and nature.

But all hope is not lost. Morocco’s High Commission for Water and Forests and the Fight Against Desertification is working to protect one of the country’s 26 wetlands of global significance.

“This reserve is considered as a framework that is developed by the state, so that everyone knows that this area is a protected framework, not only for protection, but also so that people can enjoy the benefits of this system without endangering it”, said Mohammed Andichi, Director of the Directorate of fight against desertification and preservation of nature of in Rabat.

The United Nations say between 1981 and 2003, 24 percent of global land was degraded.

AP

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