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Environmental crime in M’hamid Oases, Morocco

By Lorenzo Chelleri and Guido Minucci.

While cutting a tree down, one annihilates in the same time the past and the future” explains Ibrahim Sbai, member of “Taragalte”, environmental and cultural protection association, based in M’hamid. Palm trees are bequeathed from generation to generation and these are the main economic resources of the local population, who live from small farming and dates produced by the palms trees. It is worth noting that one palm tree can produce until 50kg dates seasonally.

The authorities of the province of Zagora, south of Morocco, enforced a plan to build a road in the palm grove of M’hamid (a 5 meters large road already exists since decades), by cutting palms on a band of 12 meters. The felling started last week and is still going on. To date around 200 palm trees have been cut. According to the plan, in the next few days the abetment will reach the amount of one thousand palm trees. Exacerbating the situation is that the palm tree roots are interconnected to each other in a dense network and cutting this amount of trees also affects the surrounding trees.

It is an unprecedented environmental crime in the valley of the Drâa, in particular in the M’hamid oasis, which constitutes a natural dam to drought and desertification. This plan was not discussed and shared with the inhabitants in advance. But the very irrational logic behind this project is that the 76km road already connecting Zagora to M’hamid will be not enlarged!

Furthermore, all these operations until now have been performed without refund or replant programmes. The absence of dialogue, transparency and ethics is a environmental injustice that pust be adressed.

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