Implementation of the NBSAP
The NBSAP (2004) features 269 actions and strategic priorities for biodiversity conservation aimed at strengthening biodiversity knowledge, coordination among different actors, the Biodiversity Committee, international cooperation and the legal framework. Although the NBSAP has not been completely implemented in the country, the CBD philosophy has remained one of the strategic axes of numerous sectoral programs, notably CEPA activities, protected areas, species recovery and conservation programs, participation of local populations in natural resource management.
Activities are currently underway for revising the NBSAP and will be conducted in accordance with the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (2011-2020).
Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets
The strategic objectives of the Department of Forestry to 2014 address the multifunctions of forest ecosystems, notably through the development of protected areas. Since the Rio Summit in 1992, 154 sites of biological and ecological interest have been identified, covering approximately 2.5 million ha of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems and humid zones. Ten national parks have been established, 24 humid zones classified under the RAMSAR list, and 3 natural areas included in UNESCO’s international network of biosphere reserves. The aim of these protected areas is to ensure in situ conservation of species through a participative, ecosystem-based approach.
Along with protected areas, the Government of Morocco has implemented various programs on the rehabilitation and recovery of endangered species, as well as a strategy on education and public awareness-raising in regard to environment and sustainable development. Management and development plans for some vulnerable areas and species have been established, as have gene banks. In particular, the Department of Forestry has launched an ambitious program to reverse deforestation trends through reforestation, improvement of sylvo-pastoral systems and integrated development of forest and peri-forested areas. The aim of the Program for the Conservation and Development of Forests is to restore and regenerate 50,000 ha of forests annually, with priority given to native species and forest fire and parasite attack prevention. Positive ecological outcomes related to these measures can already be reported, such as the reforestation of important portions of watersheds, pollution control and improvement in land wastewater treatment. Compensation has also been allocated to populations affected by the Decree on Forest Protection (2002). In 2008, the program compensated 61 user associations (5,600 people) in 19 provinces covering 42,600 ha of forest. Revenues for users amounted to 20 million dirhams (close to 2,000 dirhams per household). In addition, substantial progress has been made regarding the participation of local and indigenous communities in biodiversity protection through so-called co-management projects. The Department of Forestry has notably been working on the establishment of cooperatives and the development of fair trade in relation to forest products (such as the forest co-management project in the Kenitra region). Another good example is the “Rosemary Co-management Project” carried out in the eastern region, close to Oujda. A “contract project” was established between the Department of Forestry and a women’s cooperative that was permitted to exploit 22,000 ha of wild rosemary in order to extract and sell essential oils, while agreeing in return to manage the area sustainably. Positive impacts have already been generated as a result of these projects, both in terms of employment, the well-being of the local people and ecological recovery (for instance, illegal logging fell by 98% in the first year).
To deal with the risk of scarcity of water resources, saving water has become a key focus of the new Moroccan water policy. The Government has developed a strategy for the conservation of water and the development of irrigated agriculture (irrigation consumes over 85% of mobilized water resources). This strategy aims, inter alia, to equip a drip irrigation area of about 550,000 ha in the medium term, ensure the rational management of available water resources, conduct an institutional reform of the irrigation sector and continue efforts promoting participatory irrigation management. Another example of sectoral policy that can contribute to achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets is the “Green Morocco Plan”, led by the Department of Agriculture, on the valuation of local crops, trees, animals, water and pastures. The implementation of this plan is accompanied by a study of strategic environmental assessment for the purpose of upstream integration of the environmental dimension in all of the plan’s components. In this context, the launch of an important project on planting one million date palms in the oases of Tafilalet, up to 2015, at a total estimated cost of 100 million $ USD, should be noted. While preserving biodiversity in the oasis area, this project will benefit 6,000 farmers and generate 450,000 work days and increase date production to 95,000 tons in 2030 (from 26,000 tons in 2010).
Regarding marine biodiversity, Morocco has launched a national strategy called "Halieutis Plan" which aims, inter alia, to follow consistent and integrated plans for exploiting marine living resources. It will also support fisheries management as a whole, thereby strengthening the sustainability of fisheries in the marine ecosystem, respecting the pace of renewal of marine resources and promoting the exchange of scientific knowledge. The “Biological Rest” Program is also being implemented to prevent overfishing by prohibiting fishing during certain periods to allow fish stocks to “rest”.
Further, the process for revising the NBSAP has been launched and will be conducted in accordance with the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (2011-2020).
Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)
Morocco is engaged in processes at the international level for achieving sustainable development. The country has affirmed its intention to actively work towards better environmental management through the ratification of international environmental agreements. The national legal framework has been strengthened and several laws and regulatory texts adopted (e.g. Water Law, Law on the Protection and Improvement of the Environment, Law on Protected Areas, Law on Renewable Energy, Law on the Protection of Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, law relating to studies on environmental impact, law against air pollution, law on waste management, law on the use of degradable or biodegradable plastic bags) to accompany the actions of various actors responsible for environmental management. These legal tools have established a set of fundamental principles for sustainable development (polluter/payer, responsibility, prevention). To complete the legislative and regulatory framework for environmental protection and sustainable development, other legislative texts on issues dealing with coastline management and protection, soil protection, framework law on the National Charter for Environment and Sustainable Development are currently in the process of being adopted.
The National Charter for Environment and Sustainable Development was adopted in 2011, at a time when major socio-economic projects were launched. Considered the core engine of a system for sustainable environmental protection, the Charter aims to better mainstream environmental considerations into policies, strategies and programs of government departments, public and private operators and local authorities. In this context, the National Charter will be an overall reference for sectoral policies and its implementation considered in terms of legal and institutional anchoring at all levels of governance.
Regarding capacity-building, two recent studies should be mentioned that have been carried out under the UNEP project funded by GEF-4 "Development of the CHM and capacity-building for access and benefit-sharing of genetic resources and development of taxonomy in Morocco". These studies have identified the needs for capacity-building to improve taxonomic knowledge and establish a national framework for implementing the Nagoya Protocol. The National Biodiversity Committee has existed since 1998 and coordinates the activities of different actors involved in implementing the Convention. However, it is necessary to institutionalize this committee in order to ensure that its strategic guidelines will receive Government endorsement.
In terms of financial support, Morocco has received $85 million in technical and scientific assistance, notably from the GEF, of which around one-third has been allocated to biodiversity (and biosafety).
Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation
Morocco has developed some monitoring plans and indicators to follow the evolution of vulnerable species, notably in protected areas. Similarly, a set of 65 sustainable development indicators has been developed and maintained by the National Observatory for the Environment. In addition, Morocco launched a program for implementing 16 regional environmental observatories in 2009. To date, 12 observatories are operational and perform the role of ensuring the monitoring of environmental indicators and reporting on the state of the environment. It should be noted in this context that the regional observatory of Oujda is part of the Mediterranean Network for Biodiversity called "Medivercities".