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Industrial tree planting in Morocco


PAUL GOUJON is Chief Engineer, Forest Department, Rabat, Morocco.

A plan to provide adequate roundwood supplies for a pulp factory

THE PLANTING campaign of 1960-61 brought to an end Morocco's Operation Pulp Production (Opération cellulose), a vast undertaking to plant 60,000 hectares of Eucalyptus camaldulensis to provide regular roundwood supplies for a pulp factory recently built at Sidi-Yahia-du-Rharb. The campaign required meticulous preparation, full-scale mechanization and organization of working methods which made the work of reforestation almost like an industrial operation.

The building of the pulp factory was begun in May 1955, and since it went into operation in 1957 it has so far obtained regular supplies without difficulty from the new plantations thus proving that it is possible to create in a few years the entire timber supply for a specific industry.

Preliminary studies

Preliminary studies for the setting up of a pulp factory in Morocco date dack to 1949. They were conducted jointly by the Administration des eaux et forêts, the Forest Owners' Association of Rharb (a society of the leading eucalyptus planters), and the study group for the construction of a pulp factory in Morocco, the predecessor of Cellulose du Maroc, the Morocco Pulp Company.

These studies included research on pulp yields of eucalyptus, acacia and cedars and investigation of raw material supply sources for the factory, bearing in mind its geographical location and rate of utilization.

Preliminary studies on cellulose fibers were carried out by the Centre technique du bois in Paris on specimens of Eucalyptus camaldulensis from 10-year-old billets taken at heights of 1,4 and 8 meters from two stems about 15 meters high and 70 centimeters in circumference at a height of 1.30 meters. The fibers at the ends and in the central portion on the leeward side of each of these billets had the following lengths: those from the outside of the first stem about 1 millimeter and those from the center 0.7 millimeters, with 0.9 and 0.65 millimeters for the second stem.

These are of course short fibers that, because of their fineness (average diameter - 13 to 14 microns), have a felting index of between 52 and 59 in the first case and 57 and 72 in the second, i.e., better than most deciduous species (chestnut, linden, lime, aspen or birch) for which the figure is about 46. On the other hand, their pliancy index is very low. All in all, the findings indicated that the eucalyptus wood was suitable for pulp making.

In order to guarantee an adequate supply of wood to an industrial plant, it was first thought necessary to have at least 60,000 hectares of plantations within a radius of no more than 90 to 100 kilometers. However, the experience of these past few years showed that this was a somewhat optimistic estimate and that it would be necessary to plant considerably more than 60,000 hectares for the factory to reach its maximum capacity of 60,000 tons of pulp per year. In fact, 75,000 hectares is the estimated figure.

Eucalyptus camaldulensis timber yields about 22 percent of pulp, that is, it takes about 4.5 kilograms of raw material to obtain 1 kilogram of pulp. Timber yields also vary greatly, depending on the nature of the soil; in the region in question they were between 4 and 10 cubic meters per hectare per year.1

1On the Tadla plain in central Morocco, plantations of Eucalyptus gomphocephala, on deep, clayey calcareous soil that is irrigated in summer (200 to 300 millimeters of water being supplied) showed a rate of increment of 34 cubic meters per hectare per year between their fifth and sixth year.

Average yield is, however, not more than 6 cubic meters and since the factory only uses billets of between 7 and 35 centimeters in diameter or about 60 percent of the total cut, the remainder being used for structural timber, pitprops or charcoal, the final yield is 3.6 cubic meters of pulpwood per hectare.

Reforestation work, however, is planned to continue for at least 12 more years in the Mamora forest in which 23,000 hectares of clearings still have to be restocked, so that it will not be difficult to find the additional 15,000 hectares for growing the 270,000 tons of pulpwood required by the pulp factory. The ceiling of 60,000 tons will only however be attained in several successive steps. The factory capacity, which was 15,000 tons per annum in 1957, will reach 30,000 tons in 1963, 45,000 tons in 1970 and level off at 60,000 tons in about 1975, by which time the plantations themselves will have reached their maximum productivity.


Manner of planting

Areas planted

Absolute figures in hectares

Relevant figures, percent

State planting on public domain



State plantings on communal lands



State plantings on private property



Private plantings with state aid



Private planting without state aid






Natural conditions

The Rharb and Mamora regions where the eucalyptus plantations for this campaign are located are in the northwestern region of Morocco near the Atlantic coast. They cover a total of 830,000 hectares, of which about 130,000 hectares are in the Mamora area. The Rharb (Figure 1) is an alluvial, marshy plain bounded on the west by coastal sand dunes, on the north by the foothills of the Rif, on the east by a chain of rocky hills from 700 to 800 meters high and on the south by a vast plateau sloping slightly northward. It is on this plateau, intersected by narrow valleys running practically southwest/northeast, that the Mamora forest is situated. The average altitude is from 5 to 25 meters and most of the Rharb is absolutely flat so that mechanized forest operations and transport of either agricultural or forestry products is greatly facilitated.

The climate of these regions, although made somewhat milder by their proximity to the ocean, is in the main very hot and dry in summer. The sea's influence is not felt beyond 30 kilometers inland. Average monthly temperatures range from 3º C in January (the coldest month) to 34º C in August (the hottest), although on certain summer days it may reach 50º C. Frosts are very rare, averaging 13 days a year at Kénitra. Rainfall is from 600 millimeters on the coast to 380 millimeters inland. As in all the rest of Morocco the rainfall is very unevenly distributed; and there is practically no rain from May to October. Generally speaking, the winds are of average strength.

The Rharb plain consists of alluvial deposits from the Sebou and its main affluents, Ouerrha and Beth.

The soil consists of sand layers of varying thicknesses overlying an impervious stratum of red clay. To the north there are surface layers of gravel on which eucalyptus grows very well. The water table is much closer to the surface in the Rharb than in the Mamora forest. Eucalyptus is, of course, sensitive to the presence or lack of water and, in consequence, a crop rotation cycle from 8 to 10 years is possible in the Rharb but extends from 14 to 16 years in the Mamora plantations.

In the basin-shaped Rharb region the Sebou river and its affluents meander, causing serious flooding each winter, so that major drainage works were necessary and have now been completed. One dam at El-Kansera on the Beth wadi makes possible the irrigation of about 40,000 hectares in the southeast portion of the Rharb (Sidi-Slimane region), where the citrus plantations are now among the largest and finest in Morocco. The western Rharb is used for grain production, particularly rice, which was introduced only a few years ago and grows very well in this climate. Everywhere else, that is to say in the nonirrigable areas, the siliceous or clayey-siliceous soils are too poor for crop growing and the land is used for cattle and sheep raising.

The Mamora forest, with 130,000 hectares lying in a single stretch, is the largest cork-oak forest in the world. It was once much larger than now but has been reduced in area by many man-made clearings in the interior. The cork-oak growing there is at the southern limit of its normal] growing area so that regeneration is difficult, particularly in the eastern portion where rainfall is less than 400 millimeters. Cork-oak is actually on the decline and is yielding to the encroachment of secondary maquis including lentisk pistache ('lentisque' - Pistacia lentiscus), phillyrea ('filaria' Phillyrea angustifolia), fiveleaf sumac ('tizra' - Rhus pentaphylla) and some clumps of arartree ('thuya de Berbérie' Callitris quadrivalvis) in the Beth valley.

Foresters have, for some years now, felt that artificial regeneration was necessary or even that cork-oak should be replaced by quick-growing, drought-resistant species. Eucalyptus would be the best, particularly Eucalyptus camaldulensis, which does well on sandy, noncalcareous soils. In the Rharb, the initial reforestation projects undertaken by private owners date back to 1921, whereas in Mamora such works though begun in 1922 only really got under way during the second world war.

By 1949, therefore, since there was already a nucleus of plantations about 10,000 hectares in size in this area, the setting up of a pulp factory seemed justified. Other favorable factors were that the Rharb is readily accessible, consists of absolutely flat land and is traversed by two railway lines and excellent roads; also, the port of Kénitra is very near and there is a good water supply from its rivers and abundant groundwater sources. The prospects for expansion of the eucalyptus plantations were considered excellent both on the sandy, poor soils of the Rharb and in the clearings of the Mamora forest. The site selected for the plant was right in the center of the plantation zone, near Sidi-Yahia in the Rharb.

Eucalyptus plantations

Choice of species

Both private landowners and the State forest service tried planting Grevillea, Casuarina and pine ('pin des Canaries' and 'pin maritime') with varying degrees of success but finally confined themselves to eucalyptus and acacia (Acacia mollisima), the latter in order to obtain tannin for the local leather industry. The low rainfall and poor soils unfortunately necessitated the choice of eucalyptus with a colored wood (E. camaldulensis and E. gomphocephala) (Figure 2), so that complicated and costly chemical decolorizing treatment was required (see below). In spite of this, the advantages of E. camaldulensis. (rapid growth and good habit) are such that it is still the main timber source.2

2 There are also a few thousand hectares planted to E. gomphocephala.

Besides research on the most suitable species, experiments were made to find planting techniques which would produce wood quickly at minimum cost. These techniques are described below.

Planting Stock

Eucalyptus seedlings are raised in nurseries and planted out in the autumn at the beginning of the rainy season. In May/June seeding can be done directly in pots. After the seeds have sprouted, they are thinned so as to leave only one plant per pot. An alternative method is for the nurserymen to sow in seedbeds and then transplant into pots. The pots contain a fertile mixture of sand and mold, as loose as possible and not too rich in order to prevent excessive growth of the seedlings. These have to be watered regularly, the roots must be pruned several times so that they will not take too firm a hold in the nursery bed soil, and the shoots cut back about 15 days before planting out. Apart from the standard terracotta pots, 9 centimeters in diameter, hexagonal-shaped lumps of earth, with a cavity in the center to hold the fertile mixture, are also used. These earth pots can be prepared in the nursery itself by means of a very simple machine locally made. The advantage is that they are less cumbersome and heavy, as well as less fragile than ordinary pots and the roots of the young seedlings grow better in them. In recent years, both terracotta and soil pots have been more or less replaced by polyethylene bags, 30 to 40 centimeters long, in which the roots can easily grow in depth. These are much cheaper than pots but they are not so easy to use.

By the beginning of the rainy season the seedlings are usually 30 to 40 centimeters tall and have a thick mass of fine root fibers. They are then set out in the ground; take is usually rapid and normally they are set well before the dry season which, in this part of Morocco, does not begin until May.

The cost of such nursery seedlings is from 9 to 10 Moroccan francs (about 2 US cents) and 100 work days are considered necessary to produce 10,000 plants, or 10 work days per hectare.

Soil preparation

In the first plantations, the eucalyptus seedlings were planted in holes but the take was poor and plants vegetated for several years. It was found that trees planted on plowed soil grew much better and quickly surpassed the others, indicating the need for good soil preparation throughout the plantation area (Figure 3). Those sections of the Rharb where seedlings are to be planted out are almost flat so that machine tilling and soil preparation are very easy. It was therefore possible for the operations to be highly mechanized, and this speeded up the work and lowered costs. It is probably true to say that the goals set for the project would never have been achieved if the work had not been completely mechanized.

In fact, for the factory rapidly to attain what is considered the threshold at which it becomes a paying proposition - an annual output of 30,000 tons - it was necessary, starting in 1954, to plan an accelerated planting program on 5,500 hectares per year. This rate was sustained for seven years by means of very thoroughly organized work methods.

The first step was to eliminate ground cover that might compete with future trees. Where only herbaceous vegetation was involved, as was the case in the Rharb, deep plowing sufficed to get rid of it, but in the eastern portion of Mamora the soil was covered with brush consisting of Lentiscus and Phillyrea, and real clearing operations were necessary. The sale of charcoal from the Lentiscus stumps covered the costs.

Other plots were covered with Mediterranean palm ('palmier nain' - Chamaerops humilis and 'ormenis')3 that were difficult to uproot and grubbing machines were necessary. In the first case the clumps were divided by deep plowing, allowing the roots to be pulled up by hand and piled in heaps for burning. This work was very costly, amounting to 4,000 to 5,000 Moroccan francs (US$ 8-10) per hectare. Where whole stretches of 'ormenis' occurred, and the very hard stems clogged up or obstructed the plows, it was necessary either to break or burn the stems before plowing.

3Ormenis mixta multicaulis, composed of upright stems, that sometimes covers large areas in Mamora.

The machinery used included heavy 80 hp tractors and 5-disk plows, weighing 2.5 tons. Plowing 30 to 35 centimeters deep was generally required in compacted soils and a depth of 40 to 50 centimeters in less solid soils. In the Rharb, where the soil is better, a 25-centimeter deep plowing by a medium-sized (30 to 35 hp) tractor usually sufficed.

In order to carry out this work, the Forest Service had to buy a good deal of farm machinery. By the and of 1960 it had a pool of 32 heavy tractors, 69 light tractors, 25 plows, 85 pulverizers, cultivators or cover-crop mulchers, 1 ridger, 1 rooter, 2 mowers, 1 rake and 45 trailers.

Actual plantation work

Work/time studies were made of all the operations described below in order to organize the work for minimum expense of time and money.

Layout of plantation and staking

The young plants set out in wintertime meet with springtime competition of annuals against which they must be protected. Also, because cultivation care (hoeing and weeding) must be carried out quickly and at the right times, it is absolutely necessary that these operations be done by machinery. For machines to work properly ample headland and a long working line are required, as well as the possibility of working to a square. Consequently, these requirements must be kept.

This operation involves first marking out the area in 300 × 300 meter squares, which are divided into smaller plots 75 or 100 meters square, then identifying the planting sites by placing reed stakes or hoeing out the holes.

Naturally, space must be left for timber extraction paths which also serve as firebreaks. Alleys from 10 to 12 meters wide should be left between the squares. Dividing into plots makes it possible to limit tending operations to the most heavily weed-infested parts, and thus avoiding the necessity of going through the entire plantation.

The spacing of plants depends on various factors. Private owners usually adopt a spacing of 2 × 4 meters. On State plantations initial spacing was 3 × 3 meters, i.e., 1,100 plants per hectare, but now a spacing of 3.5 × 3.5 meters is preferred so that the density is only 830 trees per hectare. This means a considerable saving in planting, while the timber crop is not affected in any way.

The work can be done in three different stages, depending on the availability of equipment and manpower. During the first stage, the corners of the squares are sighted, a topographical job which, particularly on undulating terrain, requires skilled staff and a precise and rather powerful optical instrument. The second stage, that is, the tracing out of the parallel lines, requires only an optical square, a fairly simple instrument that can be handled even by an assistant, and a steel cable. The third stage, that is, the detailed staking out, requires small agricultural tools. Thus, the tasks involved can be assigned according to the qualifications of the workmen.

Sighting the corners of each square (Figure 4). The teams should consist of a forester, a workman to carry the surveyor's tripod, and four laborers. A forester's compass or tachymeter, surveyor's cross and level and stakes are the necessary equipment. The method used makes it possible to cover per day about 40 hectares, i.e., four 9-hectare squares and their perimeters.

FIGURE 4. - Staking out the corners of a square plot.

Marking the parallel lines (Figure 5). The teams should consist of one skilled operator, who should know how to use an optical square, and five laborers. Two laborers carry the steel cable, 100 meters long, divided into 3 meter lengths4 by rings of copper wire interlaced with the strands; the three other laborers, carrying baskets, set out the reed stakes.

4The example described here assumes that the plants are spaced 3 × 3 meters apart.

FIGURE 5. - Making the parallel lines and staking them out.

The operation consists in dividing the squares into three equal parts by two parallel lines (bases A1-B1,) and staking out these lines and their bases every 3 meters.

As soon as the two ends of the cable are in place, the three workmen dig a hole in the ground at the spot marked by a copper ring and put a stake in (each workman setting out 8 to 10 stakes). As they move along with the cable, they fill their baskets with stakes from the trailer stationed along the side of the square.

Marking out a 9-hectare square plot by four lines 300 meters long, staked out every three meters, requires one working day.

These two initial tasks precede planting. The third stage is combined with subsequent operations (transport, distribution, planting and collection of pots).

Detailed staking out. This task is performed by teams of two workmen, using a cable of the type described above, and four laborers, each armed with a hoe.

The ends of the cable are laid out one against the first stake along side A1-B1, (see Figure 4) and the second against the first stake on the parallel line mn (Figure 5); at the points indicated by the rings on the cable, the workmen hoe out small holes. This is repeated for all the stakes equally spaced along the two parallel lines. This is a very simple job but requires careful supervision.

Transport and unloading of plants

The potted plants in the nurseries laid out in lines, are sorted, watered and counted before being loaded. Each truck carries from 5,000 to 6,000 pots without any special fixtures. It takes 20 workmen two hours to load a truck at the rate of 125 to 150 pots per hour per man.

Loosening the soil by plowing does not allow the trucks to be driven inside the squares or the plants to be unloaded there; consequently the plants have to be unloaded along the outside road or, if conditions permit, on service paths around the outside of the squares.

In the first instance, a tractor with a farm trailer mounted on low pressure tires distributes them from this central supply point to smaller unloading points in lots of 1,800 to 2,000 plants each, three lots on one side of the square and another three on the opposite side: a total of at least 10,200 plants. It would be more efficient to have the plants distributed directly from the central supply to avoid loading and unloading. But for this many tractors and trailers would be required, their number depending on the distance between the plot to be planted and the central supply; in practice, this is not feasible.

Transport conditions vary from one place to another. Consequently the work is organized to suit the circumstances at each planting site. Experience has shown that it is always better to set up transport teams for each site separately and independently of any others.

Plant distribution

The plants are distributed just before the planters come to set them out (to avoid withering - which can happen quite frequently in Morocco even in the wintertime).

Because of soil conditions, 30 to 35 hp tractors are used, with wheels for flat ground and preferably caterpillar tracks for sloping ground. Trailers carry from 800 to 1,000 plants on a 2.5 × 4 meter platform. Ten workmen are required to load a trailer, and this takes 20 minutes at the average rate of five pots per minute per man.

Each plot consists of 101 rows of 101 plants each, spaced 3 × 3 meters. Enough plants for eight rows at a time are distributed. The trailer passes between rows 4 and 5 and two workmen standing on the trailer platform hand the plants to eight workers, four on each side, who set them out on the marked sites (see Figure 6).

FIGURE 6 Plant distribution circuit

The distribution teams (tractors with their drivers, trailers with two workmen and eight distributors each) move up and down the rows crossing the square 13 times and picking up loads at each end (Figure 7). For efficient handling, supply points should be located as follows: three lots containing from 1,600 to 1,800 plants on side A1-B1, the first (A) 25 meters from angle A1, the two others (C and E) 100 meters from the first; and three lots on side C1-D1, the first (B) 50 meters from angle C1, and the two others (D and F) 100 meters apart.

FIGURE 7 Distribution scheme

In this way, after 800 to 1,000 eucalyptus plants have been loaded at point A, the team distributes eight rows of plants. It reloads at B and distributes along the second strip of eight rows, bringing it close to supply point A where it picks up the remaining 800 to 1,000 plants and distributes them along the third strip, at the end of which it is back at supply point B where it loads the last 800 to 1,000 pots and distributes them along the fourth strip, etc.

The number of pots in each heap does not have to be counted exactly. With a little practice the workmen pile up the right number. Any extras are used to replace plants that have been damaged in transport. Any remaining plants are left in the area and later picked up by the distribution team. Five trailer loads of plants are distributed per hour and approximately 11,000 plants per work day.


Once the plants have been brought to the planting site and distributed to the marked planting sites, the task of the actual planter is very much simplified. A moderately skilled workman can plant from 40 to 45 trees per hour. Output or planting rate might be considerably improved if laborers were paid on a piece-work basis. However, this method of payment has the disadvantage of encouraging bad and careless work: the plants may be torn from the root ball, may not be set in deep enough or may even be planted together with the pots, etc. For these reasons, despite the draw-backs of a regular salary method (the faster workers have to slacken their pace to that of the slowest), the planters, 30 to 35 in a group, move along the rows under the sharp eye of a foreman.

In exceptional cases, when a stable labor supply is found, which is rare, it has been possible to make up homogeneous teams working in groups on a piecework basis.

Collecting the pots

Collection of the pots has to be done in two stages. In the morning the 30- to 35-man planting team stacks up the empty pots left on the ground the day before. The men move up and down the rows three times and collect the pots in piles of seven or eight in four or five rows. At the end of the afternoon, the distribution team loads them on the trailer and carries them away. The circuits for stacking and collection are shown in Figure 8.

Co-ordination of all layout operations

Having thus analyzed each of the operations (staking out, bringing in supplies, distribution of plants, planting and removal of empty pots), it might be well to see how they are co-ordinated (Figures 9 and 10).

Only by a trial and error method was it possible to decide on the composition of each of the teams described in detail above on the basis of work time required for each of the various basic tasks involved in the planting of one 9-hectare plot per day.

FIGURE 8 - Pot Collection circuit

FIGURE 9 - Work/time schedule on the plantation site.

Figure 9 shows work time during one day (7 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break). This time schedule was necessitated by the length of daylight in the wintertime and the urgency of the work.

The seven workmen team for staking out covers 9 hectares a day. In order not to hold back the other groups each morning, it is always one work day or one plot ahead.

It takes a distribution team 20 minutes to load 1,000 plants on a trailer and 30 minutes to distribute them, thus 10,200 plants can be distributed in about eight hours and 20 minutes. Beginning at 7 a.m., therefore, the team can load and distribute alternately until 4.20 p.m. It can then remove the empty pots which the 35 workmen have assembled in the morning on the plot planted the previous day during distribution of the first load of plants (50 minutes) on the plot on which they are working that day. The remainder of the day, or eight hours and ten minutes, gives the planters ample time to plant 10,200 young eucalyptus.

Plantation care

Plantations must be tended in order to enable the eucalyptus to compete with weeds and to grow so that their roots will soon reach underground water sources. The herbaceous vegetation, that grows all the more quickly the better the ground has been prepared, must be eliminated.

This work includes either a single or crosswise run with a disk harrow between the rows and hand hoeing around each plant. The usual machines are: a 40 hp caterpillar tractor of the TD6 International type and a 2-meter wide, 16-disk harrow. Tractor disk harrows weighing from 400 to 500 kilograms are preferred to a single gang of disks.

These operations are expensive because very often the operators are inexperienced, working conditions bad and the caterpillar tracks wear out quickly. The first year two hoeings and three runs were made with the tractor harrow. The second year, the tractor harrow was used only once or twice. From the third year on, the eucalyptus are sufficiently well grown to eliminate all weeds.

Cost price

Plantations vary in cost price depending on whether they are laid out by machinery on flat ground, as in this case, or whether they serve for reforestation of mountainous land where usually most of the work has to be done by hand. However, the costs in Morocco have increased greatly in the past few years as salaries and social welfare contributions have gone up and come to about 80,000 francs (US$ 160) per hectare in the stony soils of the Mamora forest. The details of the various cost items are given in Table 2 on the following page.

FIGURE 10. - Time, in minutes per hectare and per workman, required for carrying out the various operations.

Generally speaking, it is considered that 70 work days are required for planting and tending one hectare of newly stocked land.


Eucalyptus is felled in the wintertime with axes, in much the same way as any other species except that the bark has to be removed before the wood is delivered to the pulp factory.5 The wood is then cut into one- or two-meter sections and hauled by truck or railway to Sidi-Yahia-du-Rharb.

5 Hand barking raises logging costs considerably.

As already mentioned, only about 60 percent of the timber from the fellings is used because the factory requires billets between 7 and 35 centimeters in diameter. There is consequently a 40 percent waste which is used for structural timber, pitprops or converted into charcoal.

The Bureau d'études et de participation industrielles (BEPI) and the Forest Department are now studying the possibility of setting up a fibreboard factory, as an annex to the Rharb pulp factory, which would use the waste materials, particularly the bark, to the best advantage.

Eucalyptus stands are logged at the rate of 4,000 hectares per year calling for 30 working days per hectare. They are generally treated as coppice with an average felling rotation of 10 years (between 8 and 16). In order to obtain sufficiently large dimension timber more quickly, two or three years after felling the stands are thinned so as to leave not more than two or three shoots per stump.


Type of work (per hectares)

Sandy soils with a few dwarf palms (Mamora)

Sandy soil covered with dwarf palms (Mamora)

Stony soils requiring two difficult runs (Mamora)

Stony soils requiring two very difficult runs (Rharb)

Compact, very hard soils requiring two very difficult runs (Sehoul)

1. Clearing of dwarf palms






2. Subsoiling to 80 cm.






3. Plowing






4. Normal tending

Crosswise light disk harrowing

3 runs = 162.6

3 runs = 162.6

3 runs = 162.6

1 run = 54.2


Four hand hoeings






Special tending operations

Tillage with sweeps or stubble plow






Tillage with sweep followed by light disk harrowing





Subsoiling to 40 centimeters, then tillage with sweep or stubble plow





2 runs = 400

5. Transport of plants






6. Planting and related operations






7. Movement of workers






8. Cost of plants






GROSS TOTAL, excluding cost of wachman






Wachman service for three years (approx.)






GROSS TOTAL with wachman service for three years






Overheads (from 5-10 percent)






TOTAL NET COST including all expenses






1 Prices are given in dirhams (DH), the official currency of Morocco.
US$ 1.00 is equivalent to 5.02 DH; 1 DH is equal to 100 Moroccan francs.

A few stands are treated as coppice with standards or even as high forest for the production of saw timber. The oldest of these stands, now 30 years old, give excellent results, but this method of treatment is still the exception.

The eucalyptus forest of Mamora was brought under management in 1964. Its management is now being reviewed in the light of the yields from fellings of these past few years.

Financing operations

Financing this project has been the most critical part of the operation and expedients have had to be found, since the general budget did not supply all the necessary funds.

In fact, plantation costs rose from 45,000 francs (US$ 90) per hectare in 1950 to 80,000 (US$ 160) in 1960 due mainly to the rise in wages. Consequently over a period of 10 years the average cost was from 60,000 to 65,000 francs (US $ 120 to 130) per hectare for a total of 60,000 hectares bringing the sum to 400 million francs (US $ 800,000) per year.

The general infrastructure budget helped to finance this to a large extent but recourse also had to be made to the Moroccan national forestry fund (Fonds national forestier) and various other loans made, as analyzed below.

The Moroccan national forestry fund was created in 1949 on the lines of the French Fonds forestier national to finance forest research and reforestation work. This fund obtains its money from a 10 percent tax on all forest products (cork, alfa grass, wood, etc.) and is allocated to two budget items: 2 percent for the Station de recherches forestières and 8 percent for reforestation work on State domain, community land or private property.

As regards these last two categories, particularly community land which comprises large areas in the Rharb, the State has drawn up contracts with landowners to work on joint projects, their costs being reimbursable to them. Under these contracts, the Government is responsible for all work involved: growing of nursery stock, planting and tending operations. Sales of standing timber are made by public auction, as in the case of State forests. The State recovers its outlay at felling time by collecting not more than half of the sales price of the standing timber. For a 30 year period, or at least until the debt has been completely wiped out, the new stands remain under Forest Service management. The investment of the Moroccan national forestry fund in reforestation work amounts to at least 120 million francs per year with nearly 35 percent being allocated to Operation Pulp Production.

It has also been necessary, however, to have recourse to loans to finance the work in certain years. In 1953, for instance, the Government had to arrange with the Treasury for an advance of 40 million francs and that same year the Rharb pulp company known as the Cellulose du Rharb obtained a loan of 100 million repayable in timber within a 10-year period.

Finally, private landowners have planted about 12,000 hectares of eucalyptus in the Rharb without State aid. They have therefore financed this reforestation work to the extent of over 20 percent.

Summing up the various types of financing, they were:

Financial aid


State financing:

on public domain


community land


private property


Private financing:

with State aid


without State aid



Another difficulty arose from the fact that communities requested immediate advances on future sales of timber to be grown on their land. These communities previously used their commons for pasturing flocks, and the planting of eucalyptus by the Government took certain land away from such use and set it aside as forest reserves, causing conflict with former use rights. After long discussion, the State agreed to advance to these communities 4,000 francs per hectare per year6 to be drawn from the Caisse centrale de crédit agricole.

6The average revenue from such plantations may be estimated at 8,000 francs per hectare per year.

The pulp factory

Once the trees have been felled, barked and cut into billets they are delivered to the pulp factory which is 6 kilometers from Sidi-Yahia-du-Rharb, close to the main reforestation projects (Figure 11). This factory a]so owns 2,800 hectares of its own private plantations.

The factory was completed in 1955 but pulp production began only in 1957, after laborious preliminary chemical research studies.

The plant now uses from 75,000 to 80,000 tons of wood per year, which yields 16,000 tons of pulp, or 45 tons, per day. The water needed is pumped from a water table about 45 meters below the surface of the ground. Present consumption amounts to 600 cubic meters per hour.

A private branch line connects the factory with the trunk railway a few kilometers from the Sidi-Yahia station.

The logs are barked in the stand and delivered to the factory either by rail or truck. They are checked and signed for on consignment; the wood must be delivered semiseasoned, that is, the water content must not be higher than 20 percent, otherwise there is a reduction in the price paid. The billets must be between 7 to 35 centimeters in diameter at the small end7 and from 1 to 2 meters in length, with a tolerance of ± 10 percent. The present purchasing price is 2,800 francs (US $ 5.60) per ton delivered at the factory,8 for a density of 1 (i.e., 1 cubic meter weighing 1 ton).

7Starting in 1963 the factory will have a new chipper that will enable it to accept timber up to 4 centimeters in diameter at the small end.
8 The wood itself represents 22 percent of the cost price of the pulp.

FIGURE 11. - Cellulose factory at Sidi-Yahia-du-Rharb.

For about six months the timber is kept in a lumberyard in 4-meter-wide stacks spaced 4 meters apart. The billets are conveyed from this lumberyard to the chipper through a sluice where the sand and stones are washed away with water. The wood is then reduced to chips from which dust and waste are removed in a 'cyclone' (centrifuge machine). After this process, the chips are belt-conveyed into tubs where they are hydrolyzed by sulphur dioxide and then into upright cookers where they undergo digestion in soda liquor at 170º for six to eight hours. In this way, the cellulose fibers are dissolved and separated from the lignin. Bleaching by a series of hypochlorite or chlorine dioxide treatments follows. The bleached fiber is suspended in water and finally wrung out and dried in a pulp drying machine.

The marketable pulp sheets leaving this machine with a 5 percent water content are cut, weighed and packed for shipping, after which the spent liquor is treated to recover the lime.

Large quantities of soda and chlorine are necessary for pulp making; they are produced by electrolysis of sodium chloride extracted from the salt mines of Taza in Morocco. For this purpose the pulp factory has an annex producing chemical products which is becoming the leading chlorine producer in Morocco.

The waste waters, after filtering, are evacuated into oxidation tanks through a collection drain several kilometers long, and dumped into the Sebou Plans are being made for irrigation experiments in eucalyptus stands with this water which at present is not used in any way.

The pulp making process at the Sidi-Yahia factory is rather complex and it took several years to find the most efficient and economical method. Since the eucalyptus used has a colored wood containing both tannin and phenol compounds, the bisulphite process is not enough and cooking in an alkaline solution was found necessary.

Eighty-eight percent of the pulp produced is exported to the following countries:




United Kingdom












Germany, Federal Republic



These exports bring Morocco foreign exchange (mainly pounds sterling) equivalent to 1,000 million francs (US $ 2 million) per year.

The factory has a permanent payroll of 400 workers, of whom 60 are French technicians and the rest Moroccans recruited locally and trained at the plant. The company has an annual payroll of 240 million francs, and directly provides employment for 400 families and indirectly for over 2,000 making a total of about 12,000 persons who gain their living from eucalyptus plantations in a poor agricultural zone suffering from chronic underemployment. In addition to the technical training given the workers at the factory, particularly in the chemistry laboratory, since last year the company has organized fundamental education courses for illiterates. It also provides free medical service for all its workers.

The building of this industrial unit required an initial outlay of 4,000 million francs (US $ 8 million) and next year the company expects to make new investments of about 1,500 million francs (US $ 3 million) raising its capacity to 30,000 tons of pulp per annum.

In order to help this enterprise establish itself the Government of Morocco gives substantial annual rebates to the Morocco Pulp Company on the cost of electric power and fuel oil as well as on customs duties ordinarily levied on imported chemicals.

The 1952 convention

On 2 July 1952, the Administration des eaux et forêts signed an agreement with the Morocco Pulp Company under which the Government undertook to afforest a sufficiently large area to ensure the factory a steady supply of timber while the company on the other hand agreed to take the entire pulpwood production.

So far neither side has had any difficulty in fulfilling its commitments and, in view of the achievements in these past few years, the Government has decided to prolong the reforestation program in the Rharb-Mamora zone, expanding the eucalyptus plantations to at least 75,000 hectares.

The forest research station at Rabat is keeping a close check on soil conditions and silvicultural practices in eucalyptus stands. It has already been found that, at least on the poor soils of the Mamora forest, timber yields diminished after the first cut as a result of many stumps dying off. Apparently no more than three cuts per tree are possible; this means, since the new rotation cycle has just been set at 16 years, that the life span of the trees is not more than about 50 years. By then, new plantations will have to be set out. In the Rharb's more fertile soils growth is more rapid, and the average rotation cycle is 10 years so that, if the life span of the stumps is the same, it should be possible to make five instead of three cuts. In any case, however, the problem of restocking will not arise for the next 30 years, since the oldest plantations are at most 20 years old now.

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