Mohammed ELLATIFI, Forest Service, Casablanca, Hay Salam, MOROCCO
Morocco has around 9.5 million ha of forests, which constitute its major wood harvesting activity in mountainous areas. At present there are not any cable systems in use there, but they could be one of the harvesting techniques that would better preserve the forest environment and help achieve sustainable management. This paper analyses wood products from the forests in Morocco and recommends key ways to improve the local situation towards general sustainable forest management.
Key words: wood, harvesting, felling, logging, cable systems, forest, mountains. Atlas, Rif, Morocco, training, manpower, work organization, sawnwood, fuelwood, pulpwood
Brief outline of Moroccan forests
Of the 710 850 km2, which is Morocco's total surface, forestry covers an area of approximately 9.5 million ha -representing a forest cover of 13.4 percent. The breakdown of this total forestry area is given in Table 1.
Table 1. Major forest species in Morocco
|Species||Covered area (in ha)||Percentage of total forest area|
|A. Natural forests|
|• Cedrus atlantica||131 800|
|• Tetraclinic articulata||565 798|
|• Pinus spp.||678 714|
|• Juniperus spp.||244 819|
|• Abies pinsapo||3 174|
|• Other coniferous||5 764|
|Total coniferous||1 630 069||17.2%|
|• Quercus ilex||1 364 100|
|• Q. suber||348 200|
|• Q. faginea||9 091|
|• Argania spinosa||828 300|
|• Other broad-leaved||1 112 300|
|Total broad-leaved||3 661 991||38.6%|
|A.3.Mattorals / Maquis||402 435||4.2%|
|A.4.Spartograss(Stipa tenacissima)||3 272 659||34.4%|
|Total natural forests||8 967 154||94.4%|
|B. Plantation forests|
|B.1. Coniferous||201 400|
|B.2. Broad-leaved||328 600|
|Total plantations||530 000||5.6%|
|Total forests||9 497 154||100%|
Forests and orthography
With the exception of some forest stands growing in the strip along the Atlantic Ocean (Laraysh, Maamora, Admine, etc.) or along the Mediterranean Sea (Tangier, Oujda, etc.). most of the forests grow on plateaux and mountains.
There are four major mountain ranges in the country: the Rif Mountains (2 465 m), the Anti Atlas Mountains (2 531 m), the Middle Atlas Mountains (3 326 m), and the High Atlas Mountains (reaching 4 165 m at the Tubkal summit). These four ranges occupy 15 percent of the country's surface area and contain 35 percent of the rural population.
The main forest species growing at altitude and subject to regular harvesting are: Cedrus atlantica, Abies pinsapo, Pinus pinaster, Pinus halepensis, Quercus ilex, Q. suber, and Q. faginea.
Forest wood harvesting possibilities
Considering the average annual increment of the different species, the annual wood harvesting possibilities of the Moroccan forests - for the short and medium term -are estimated at a total of 1 617 000 m3 of roundwood (see Table 2).
Table 2. Annual wood harvesting possibilities of the Moroccan forests
|Category of wood||Volume (in m3 roundwood)|
|Other industrial and utility wood||826 000|
|Total||4 497 000|
Source: Ellatifi, 1998; MARA (DEFCS) and ORT/World Union, 1992.
Besides this technical estimation of forest wood harvesting possibilities, there is the real on-the-ground situation. This situation encompasses: i) the volume annually sold by the Forest Department; and ii) the volume effectively collected from the forest.
Wood volume officially sold by the Forest Department
Table 3 gives the variation of roundwood volume sold by the Forest Department for the periods 1984–1988 and 1998–1999. It also shows that the average wood volume officially harvested from the forest every year is around 1 008 000 m3 roundwood, of which nearly 50 percent is fuelwood. Nevertheless, the volume effectively collected is much higher than this official figure.
Volume effectively harvested from the forest
Due mainly to the very low income of rural communities living in the vicinity of the forests, these people, to improve their household's poor economic situation and meet some of their basic needs, commit illicit tree fellings, more particularly in cedar forests, in order to sell sawnwood and charcoal on the black market.
Consequently, in order to reflect the true situation, the official figures given in Table 2 should be revised upwards for sawnwood, other and utility wood, and fuelwood. Regarding pulpwood, the non-prescribed fellings could be considered as non-significative.
For sawnwood and other and utility wood, there is no reliable data concerning harvesting. Nevertheless, based on our own experience in the area, we can estimate it as half of the corresponding figures reported in Table 2.
Regarding fuelwood, a national consumption study was carried out in Morocco for both rural and urban areas (Ellatifi, 1989, 1998; and MCWF, 1998). This statistical study used a stratified random sampling and estimated the Moroccan effective fuelwood collection at no fewer than 9 566 200 m3 roundwood, with an error equal to 15 percent, at the 5 percent-significance level. This huge volume is 332 percent of the estimate given in Table 2. The effective harvested wood volume from the Moroccan forests is given in Table 4.
Table 3. Local wood production, officially sold by the Forest Department, in roundwood, period 1984–1988 and 1998–1999
|Volume in m3 roundwood||1984||1985||1986||1987||1988||1998||1999||Average (M)||Standard deviation (S)||Coefficient of variation (CV)||95%-confidence interval|
|L B||H B|
|Sawnwood||116 000||104 000||151 000||120 000||134 800||234 000||176 000||147 971||41 589||28.1%||100 777||195 165|
|Industrial wood||300 000||290 000||396 000||482 300||414 100||381 000||394 000||379 629||61 621||16.2%||309 693||449 565|
|Fuelwood||437 000||500 000||422 500||386 250||458 750||548 700||614 000||485 743||70 239||14.5%||406 027||565 459|
|Total||853 500||894 000||969 500||989 150||1 007 650||1 163 700||1 184 000||1 008 786||115 831||11.5%||877 326||1 140 246|
Source: MCWF (1998); MARA (DEFCS) and ORT/World Union, 1992.
The 95 percent-confidence interval is given by LB (Lower boundary) and HB (Higher boundary).
where LB = M - t(0.975 ; nu = n-1)*S/sqr(n-1) and
HB = M + t(0.975 ; nu=n-1)*S/sqr(n-1).
With M Average volume,
S standard deviation,
n sample size and
t(0.975; nu n-1) value of Student's statistic for 5 percent-significance level and nu n-1 6 degrees of freedom.
Table 4. Annual wood harvesting possibilities of the Moroccan forests
|Category of wood||Volume (in m3 roundwood)|
|Fuelwood||9 566 200|
|Other industrial and utility wood||1 239 000|
|Total||11 771 700|
Source: Ellatifi, 1989,1998; MCWF, 1998).
Wood harvesting technology and sustainable forest management
There are around 50 sawmills in Morocco, based mainly in the Middle Atlas and the Rif regions. Bearing in mind the abrupt relief of the forested landscape in the Rif and Atlas Mountains (1 500 to over 4 000 m in altitude), the introduction of cable systems in forest harvesting would be very useful and well adapted to many areas. Cable systems would also be less environmentally disturbing.
The general situation of wood harvesting in Moroccan forests is still far below the minimum standards required to minimize wood loss during tree felling and log handling on one hand, and ensure sustainable forest management on the other hand. So far, the harvesting activities of the sector are characterized by:
Moroccan forests are the largest and most biodiversity-rich in the southern and eastern Mediterranean basin. They play vital economic, social, environmental and cultural roles. Their sustainable management could be a model case in the Mediterranean region, and an example for other countries worldwide. At present these forests are under heavy pressure through overgrazing and overcollection of fuelwood. Timber harvesting is also beyond the stands' possibility, because of illicit fellings.
To help achieve full sustainable forest management, local rural communities should be more involved in forest management (Ellatifi, 1999, 2000), and forests should be looked at as part and parcel of integrated watershed management, including the improvement of forest neighbours' economic situation. Wood harvesting materials should be modernized, including the possible introduction of cable systems in steep mountains. Logging engines should be more efficient and labourers should be better trained and organized.
Ellatifi, M. 1989. Bath houses' fuelwood consumption. Paper presented at the first meeting on Forest Energy, Rabat, 18–21 January, 1989 (in French).
Ellatifi, M. et al. 1998. National fuelwood consumption in Morocco (1994): Synthesis. MADRPM, MCWF, CEP, Casablanca. (in French).
Ellatifi, M. 1999. Key forestry issues for a strategic forest policy in Morocco. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Contributions to Science to the Development of Forest Policies, IUFRO Division 6 - All Divisions Meeting. 7–15 January 1999. Pretoria, South Africa.
Ellatifi, M. 2000. Rural communities as a cornerstone of sustainable forest management. In the Proceedings of the XXI IUFRO World Congress in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 7–12 August 2000.
MARA (DEFCS) / ORT World Union. 1992. The wood channels in Morocco. Study of the production and commercialization of wood and wood-derived products. Project Ghard-Maamora, 1992. (in French).
MCWF. 1998. Five-year period Plan 1999–2003. Specialized Commission No. 39. Waters & Forests Preliminary Report, December 1998. (in French).
Symbols and abbreviations used
|MARA||Ministry of Agriculture and A'grarian Reform|
|MCWF||Ministry in Charge of Waters and Forests|
|DEFCS||Directorate of Waters, Forests and Soil Conservation|