Meeting of the National Steering Committee Responsible for the Prevention and Fight against Forest Fires


The Steering Committee responsible for the Prevention and Fight against Forest Fires met on Thursday, May 16, 2024, under the chairmanship of Mr. Abderrahim HOUMY, Director General of the National Agency for Water and Forests (ANEF).

The Steering Committee meeting was held at the headquarters of the National Agency for Water and Forests. The agenda covered the following points:

Presentation of the results and lessons learned from the 2023 forest fires; Examination of the means and measures to be put in place for the next summer season 2024. The national forest domain is subject to various pressures that are increasingly detrimental to the major roles it plays on the social, economic and environmental levels. These pressures result in an increased risk of fires starting, especially since Moroccan forests are, like Mediterranean forests, extremely flammable during the summer season. Several factors are at the origin of this vulnerability, including the increase in temperatures, the reduction in air humidity and the frequent advent of dry and hot “Chergui” type winds.

The forest fire situation for the year 2023 across the Kingdom shows 466 fires, affecting 6,426 ha of forest area covered by fire, of which 35% of this area is made up of shrubs and herbaceous formations. and Alfa. This year saw a significant decrease in terms of area compared to the year 2022 and which recorded an area of ​​22,760ha, i.e. a reduction rate of 70%.

In 2023 and to varying proportions, almost all regions of the Kingdom will be affected by forest fires. The greatest pressure is recorded in the Tangier-Tétouan-Al Hoceima region with 182 fire outbreaks and a burned area of ​​1620 ha (i.e. 40% of the number of fires recorded nationally), however in terms of area burned, the oriental region placed 1st with 2552 ha (i.e. 40% of the total area burned nationally). This ranking is the result of the largest fire of the year which was recorded in the province of Berkane on 07/16/2023 over an area of ​​2,347 ha.

It should be remembered that our country, like many countries in the world, experienced, in 2023, a scorching summer and episodes of extreme heat, especially in July and August where “absolute records” of temperatures were recorded.

Across the Mediterranean basin, the worsening of weather conditions has favored the outbreak and spread of large-scale forest fires. Thus, according to available data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), the forest areas damaged by fires were 175,000 ha in Greece, 107,231 in Italy, 101,184 ha in Spain, in Algeria 73,725 ha, in Portugal 43,049 ha, in France 27,872 ha and.

In Morocco, despite instantaneous climatic disturbances, characterized by droughts and long successive heat waves, fire prevention and firefighting policies, adopted by all stakeholders, mainly the Ministry of the Interior, the National Agency for Water and Forests, Local Authorities, Civil Protection, Royal Gendarmerie, Royal Air Forces, Royal Armed Forces and Auxiliary Forces aim to reduce as much as possible the potential socio-ecological and environmental damage from forest fires .

The partners are therefore aware of the need to redouble vigilance and continue efforts to continually improve fire prevention and firefighting policies.

To this end, the National Agency for Water and Forests has allocated a total budget of 153 million dirhams for the year 2024 for the prevention and fight against forest fires. This budget is broken down into several preventive and operational actions, including the maintenance of fire trenches, the development of water points, the opening and rehabilitation of forest trails, preventive silviculture, the maintenance of lookout posts. , the mobilization of fire watchers and also the maintenance and purchase of first intervention vehicles.

Given the importance of awareness and communication, the National Agency for Water and Forests, in collaboration with the Ministry of the Interior, the General Directorate and Civil Protection, has scheduled, on the occasion of the national forest fire risk awareness day celebrated on May 21 each year, the organization of activities and actions to raise awareness among schoolchildren, residents and visitors to the forest about the dangers and consequences of fires.

Finally, it should be noted that almost all forest fires are started by man and his activities. Thus, the National Agency for Water and Forests urges users of forest areas such as campers, beekeepers, breeders, etc., to be vigilant and to refrain from using fire during the summer period. Citizens are invited to immediately report any sighting of fire or suspicious behavior in a forest environment to the competent authorities. This approach is essential to preserve our forest heritage and consolidate its major role on the socio-economic and environmental levels.

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