BIOTA Morocco - Results

Impact of firewood extraction on the steppes vegetation on the Taoujgalt plain

S.El Moudden(1); Prof. A.Achhal El Kadmiri(1); Dr. M.Finckh(2)
 (1) Institut Agronomique et Vétérinaire Hassan II, Rabat, Morocco
 (2) BioCentre Klein Flottbek and Botanical Garden, Hamburg, Germany

In the mountainous regions of Morocco, people have always resorted to the use of vegetal resources to meet their energy demands. This practice can thus provoke an ecological imbalance, with native ecosystems incapable of reacting to the demands.

Fig.1: Extraction of firewood at the testsite Taoujgalt
In the academic year 2003/2004 we started to examine firewood extraction in detail in order to evaluate the impact. The aim of this project was to collect data using different methodological approaches: direct inquiries in the population, phyto-ecological surveys and measurements of biomass stocked in the villages.

We obtained the following results:
  1. The firewood supply is gathered by women; the transport of the collected wood is generally carried out by foot, on the women's backs (Fig. 1).
  2. The steppes are, as communal land, the principal source of energy, as the wood can be collected there free of charge (Fig. 2, Fig. 3).

Fig.2: The origin of the firewood according to ressource and village

Fig.3: The orgin of firewood
(in total)

Therefore, we analysed the zones of firewood gathering around the villages to relate them to the annually extracted biomass, the stock kept around the villages and the consumed quantities.

Fig.4: The usage of firewood per fireplace and day (fresh material)
The average consumption of firewood is around 24 kg/day (Fig.4); this amount is unevenly distributed between the three main uses: cookery, personal hygiene and heating.

Fig.5: The total usage of firewood per village (fresh material)
The total annual extraction of firewood in the study area adds up to 6723 t/year of fresh plant material.

On the map (Fig. 6), three distinct zones of firewood gathering can be distinguished, depending on the tribal affiliation of the douars (village communities):
  1. Alemdoune zone: Ait Alemdoune fraction
  2. Tourza, Ait Toumert, Ait Khlifa, Imzilne and Rbad zone: Ait Ahmed fraction
  3. Taoujgalt, Ait Youb; Ait Daoud and Ait Mousaoudaoud zone: Ait Zekri fraction

The zones marked in red correspond to areas surrounding the villages which are heavily overexploited; those in brown are zones with sparse vegetation which are presently transit areas used to pass through in order to reach those areas which offer enough firewood, marked in green.

The annual extraction of firewood in the steppes adds up to 2-5 % of the actual biomass.

Based on the numbers presented and taking into consideration the second important land-use factor grazing - as the area is also used by nomads - it is obvious that human pressure is overstraining the natural vegetation.

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