Desertification and Its Control in Morocco

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.


This chapter reviews the status of desertification in Morocco. It is divided into three parts. (i) the general context (ii) causes of desertification in Morocco (both proximate and the root causes and (iii) efforts to combat desertification and land degradation (past and planned). Key Points In Morocco, the process of desertification affects large areas. It is more pronounced because the climate is arid and soils are vulnerable to erosion. Also, precariousness of life of the rural populations pushes them to overexploit the natural resources to satisfy their increasing needs, which accentuates the deterioration of surroundings. The sectoral approach adopted to attenuate the natural resources deterioration showed its limits because of the increasing amplification of the deterioration. This situation incited the public powers to adopt new orientations of development that result in the strategy of rural development. In this context Morocco finalized a National Action Program (NAP) for Combating Desertification (CD) which constitutes an important stage in the process of its commitments within the UNCCD. The NAP-CD is conceived to promote a strong articulation and a synergism between the sectoral programs through actions of support and accompaniment of the process of combating desertification. Specifically, there is support of actions that promote income-generation, combat the desertification and attenuate the effects of drought, and reinforce the network of monitoring systems. For the implementation of NAP, the institutional mechanism of coordination has been set up) a mechanism for follow-up and assessment of impacts of projects and different ecosystem observations have been initiated. The success of NAP-CD as political engagement and as tool of programming of concrete and innovative actions of intervention and implementations will require the mobilization of all available energies. Proven practices to arrest and reverse land degradation in all of its forms have been implemented in every region of the country. These include developement of systems of livestock/rangeland integration that provide additional forage and fodder and at the same time increase then cover of plants that can protect the soil, increase carbon sequestration. Several soil conservation technologies have been developed in Morocco and are available for large diffusion but in many cases these technologies have not been permanently adopted. It seems that a large-scale dissemination of these new practices requires some financial incentives that must be sufficiently high to stimulate farmers to adopt the technologies.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

... The region is prone to desertification due to its arid climate and soil erodibility. However, this process has been exacerbated by the expansion of water-intensive agriculture and anthropogenic pressure in recent years (Bouabid et al., 2010;Hammouzaki, 2013;Kouba et al., 2018;Farah et al., 2021;Kacem et al., 2021). ...
Landsat time-series with 10-year intervals from 1991 to 2021 were used to extract information on land use and land cover (LULC) changes in the Ternata oasis over the past thirty years by using maximum likelihood classification (MLC) and the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI). MLC maps were classified in five LULC classes: cultivated land, desertified land, barren land, built-up area, and water bodies. While the NDVI maps were classified in two classes: cultivated and uncultivated land. The classes identified in the MLC maps have an overall accuracy higher than 90 percent. Results revealed a significant expansion of desertified lands (+168.09%) between 1991 and 2021. Cultivated lands, on the other hand, shrank by −29.6%. Furthermore, sixty additional Landsat images from 1991 to 2021 were analyzed and revealed a strong correlation between LULC changes in the oasis and the stored water in the upstream reservoir. The Ternata oasis has experienced significant desertification related to human and natural factors, particularly drought and the expansion of cultivated areas reliant on groundwater. Given the widespread land degradation, several local efforts are being implemented to mitigate the effects of desertification and conserve the Ternata oasis' natural resources.
... This method is simple, robust, powerful, and easy to use for the management and protection of the fragile arid and semiarid lands. the phenomenon [4]. The aridity of climate, vulnerability to soil erosion, human pressure and overexploitation of natural resources in rural areas are the main driving forces of desertification in Morocco [5]. ...
Full-text available
Desertification is an environmental problem worldwide. Remote sensing data and technique offer substantial information for mapping and assessment of desertification. Desertification is one of the most serious forms of environmental threat in Morocco, especially in the oases in the southeastern part of the country. This study aims to map the degree of desertification in middle Draa Valley in 2017 using a Sentinel-2 MSI (multispectral instrument) image. Firstly, three indices, namely, tasselled cap brightness (TCB), greenness (TCG) and wetness (TCW) were extracted using the tasselled cap transformation method. Secondly, other indices, such as normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and albedo, were retrieved. Thirdly, a linear regression analysis was performed on NDVI-albedo, TCG-TCB and TCW-TCB combinations. Results showed a higher correlation between TCW and TCB (r = −0.812) than with that of the NDVI-albedo (r = −0.50). On the basis of this analysis, a desertification degree index was developed using the TCW-TCB feature space classification. A map of desertification grades was elaborated and divided into five classes, namely, nondesertification, low, moderate, severe and extreme levels. Results indicated that only 6.20% of the study area falls under the nondesertification grade, whereas 26.92% and 32.85% fall under the severe and extreme grades, respectively. The employed method was useful for the quantitative assessment of desertification with an overall accuracy of 93.07%. This method is simple, robust, powerful, and easy to use for the management and protection of the fragile arid and semiarid lands.
... More than 46% of Africa's surface is affected by desertification. In Morocco, a large part of the land (approximately 90%) is classified as desert [3]. Human pressures, dry climate, and natural hazards (such as landslides and soil erosion) are the main driving factors of desertification in Morocco. ...
Full-text available
Oases can play a significant role in the sustainable economic development of arid and Saharan regions. The aim of this study was to map the desertification-sensitive areas in the Middle Draa Valley (MDV), which is in the southeast of Morocco. A total of 13 indices that affect desertification processes were identified and analyzed using a geographic information system. The Mediterranean desertification and land use approach; which has been widely used in the Mediterranean regions due to its simplicity; flexibility and rapid implementation strategy; was applied. All the indices were grouped into four main quality indices; i.e., soil quality; climate quality; vegetation quality and management quality indices. Each quality index was constructed by the combination of several sub-indicators. In turn; the geometric mean of the four quality index maps was used to construct a map of desertification-sensitive areas; which were classified into four classes (i.e., low; moderate; high and very high sensitivity). Results indicated that only 16.63% of the sites in the study were classified as least sensitive to desertification; and 50.34% were classified as highly and very highly sensitive areas. Findings also showed that climate and human pressure factors are the most important indicators affecting desertification sensitivity in the MDV. The framework used in this research provides suitable results and can be easily implemented in similar oasis arid areas.
Full-text available
The aeolian sediments (mobile sand and dust) trapped along native plants create a geomorphological landform, known as nabkhas. About 600 core samples from aeolian accumulations settled around 15 species of main native plants in Kuwait. Cyperus conglomeratus, Haloxylon salicornicum and Rhanterium epapposum nabkha sediment is characterized by more alkaline (pH) values, low moisture content and electrical conductivity (EC). The later plants contain short branches spacing and are at close distances from the nearby nabkhas. The Astragalus sp nabkhas mean grain sizes are considered the finest and contain considerable carbonate percentages as it grows in playa and alluvial fan deposits. Citrulus sp nabkhas are characterized by the lowest pH, EC, and moisture content but the highest content of carbonate in comparison to other native plants. Lycium sp has the longest distance between branches and to the equivalent nearby species. The maximum aeolian accumulation volume was noted around Nitraria retusa, Lycium shawii, Haloxylon salicornicum and Calligonum polygonoides up to 21.9, 15.5, 14.5, and 13.3 m 3 , respectively, which spot them as the most effective solutions for future applications in controlling aeolian activities in the region. This study aimed to assess the sediment properties around native plants and detect the most efficient plants in controlling aeolian activities in Kuwait.
Full-text available
The prevailing and strong northwesterly wind in Kuwait during summer is consistently causing a significant movement of aeolian sediment that poses serious environmental and economic threats. The average removal costs per cubic meter for aeolian encroachments around desert infrastructures in Kuwait increased from USD 1.2 to USD 1.32, respectively, representing one of the highest expenses in the region in 1993 and 2013. Correspondingly, morphological properties of aeolian deposits around 15 dominant species of native plants were determined, after which, the cost saving per plant was calculated equivalent to the cubic meter removal cost. Nitraria retusa, Lycium shawii, Haloxylon salicornicum and Calligonum polygonoides trapped the maximum mobile aeolian sediments up to 21.9 m3, 15.5 m3, 14.5 m3, and 13.3 m3, respectively, which make them the most efficient solutions for present and future applications in controlling aeolian processes. Aeolian activities were monitored during the establishment stage of 110,000 of these effective native plants in the Liyah Protected Area and green belts of Moringa pterygosperma in the Kabd area. It was noted that native plants had a positive effect as they captured about 115 tons of aeolian sediments, thus, saving USD 151800 as estimated removal cost of these accumulations all around human settlements. Native plants and green belts have also contributed to the reduction in the annual rates of mobile sand by 94% and 95.3%, and dust by 64.5% and 68.4%, respectively.
The article gives the results of long-term researches regarding the processes of desertification of droughty European grounds-Russian Caspian areas. The fact that the authors consider desertification as unification, which leads to degradation of all arid ecosystems components, makes the approach particular. It was determined that the ecodynamic species of vegetation subclass had the largest indicator value enabling to trace sequence of degradation, allocate the criteria of the evaluation, and stages (classes) of desertification. They make the main content of biological conception of desertification developed by the authors. Cartographic materials prove convertibility of this process in the conditions of semiarid zone of European continent under influence of natural and natural-anthropogenic factors.
Full-text available
Desertification of susceptible dry lands due to environmental resource degradation is a global phenomenon, which assumes a greater importance even in the Indian context. Anantapur district, located in the Rayalaseema region of the south-central part of peninsular India, is one such dry area experiencing desertification condition due to environmental resource degradation that is conditioned by natural factors and exacerbated by anthropogenic factors. The current paper attempts to depict the degradation status while examining all major resource parameters covering both natural and anthropogenic causes of desertification. Environmental indicators are used to identify the phenomenon and secondary data are used to structure the various arguments implying desertification in the study area already taking place due to natural vulnerability, which is exacerbated by human pressures leading to environmental resource degradation. An assessment of desertification is made using the Leopold matrix; however, given the complexity of interactions present in the matrix, an index reflecting the level of desertification was structured so as to act as an aggregate of the interactions between activities and parameters. The paper, however, does not venture into establishing direct cause-effect relationships, as these interactions are quite complex and intertwined to model in the framework adopted.
Full-text available
Fodder trees and shrubs can be useful to improve grazing lands where the plant cover is poor. They can act as (a) a standing fodder bank to buffer seasonal fluctuations that occur in arid and semi-arid areas, (b) a protein supplement for livestock on poor native rangelands or consuming low quality roughages, (c) a mean of soil erosion control, and (d) a fuel source for low income farmers. For these reasons, fodder trees and shrubs plantations are expanding. By the end of the twentieth century, about one million ha have been planted with native and exotic fodder species in the Mediterranean basin, mainly in eastern and southern countries. In Europe, plantations of fodder shrubs are a relatively recent phenomenon. Many scientists from southern Europe have, however, realized that shrubs and trees could be selected for desirable ecological, agronomic and nutritional traits, and be planted to meet specific needs in Mediterranean production systems. The available literature shows that the bulk of the work on browse is essentially agronomic, in which the main focus was on types and availability of browse, rates of productivity, and biomass structure. In this contribution, more consideration will be given to the relatively limited work on chemical composition, nutritional value and intake, as well as on palatability, use and animal performance. Examples have been limited to the most commonly used species.
Past climatic moisture anomalies can be reconstructed from climatically sensitive tree-ring chronologies of Cedrus atlantica in Morocco. A map-pattern technique was utilized to derive 10 patterns of variability for the period 1845–1974. The individual patterns were examined, in space using geostatistical techniques, and in time using correlation coefficients. The results indicate a clear alternation of favourable-unfavourable climatic regimes lasting 20–25 years. The spatial extent of the climatic moisture anomalies can be explained by a combination of three factors of the atmospheric circulation related to the Azores High, local cyclogenesis, and north-eastern perturbations.
Severely stricken by successive periods of drought, Morocco has made desertification control, drought mitigation, and environment protection, in general, top priorities in its socio-economic development.
The national action plan for combating desertification report
  • Agr Daf
Caractérisation des Unités Bour Homogènes. Rapport Final projet FAO-PNUD
  • O Berkat
  • L Lajouad
  • A Harzeni
  • M Hailouch
Improving feed resource and quality in the dryland areas of Morocco by introducing the strip-alley cropping system (eds) Fodder shrub development in arid and semi-arid zones. Proceedings of the workshop on native and exotic fodder shrubs in arid and semi-arid zones
  • El Mzouri
  • E Chiriyaa
  • A Mourid
  • M Laamari
Documenting the impact: how effective is
  • K Shideed
  • A Laamari
  • M Boughlala
  • H Benouda
  • H Mahyou
  • R Mrabet
  • El Mourid
  • M Aw-Hassan
  • A Hammudi
  • M Rahmi
  • El Mzouri
  • H Thomas