Rural Communities Growing Trees in the High Atlas Mountains

February 15, 2017

By Kerstin Opfer, HAF Volunteer


"A man of the companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him said: With my own ears I heard the prophet, peace be upon him, say: Whoever plants a tree and works hard to keep it alive and takes care of it until it gives fruits, will be rewarded and every fruit will be a charity."


Tree Distribution Commune Zerkten

Over the last two days I helped Mohamed, a volunteer of the High Atlas Foundation, with the distribution of a thousand trees, 300 almond and 700 walnut trees, in the commune Zerkten in the High Atlas Mountains. After we picked up the trees from the nursery in Ourika, we took the transport from Ait Ourir and travelled to one of the most remote areas I have ever visited. The further we got the more difficult and onerous the road got to a point where the driver had to check the engine and tires every half an hour. On our way we met several farmers, provided them with trees and visited the land, where they intend to plant the trees. Seeing their thankfulness and appreciation gave me great trust that they will take good care of the trees so that they will grow up to be strong and healthy. Once mature, after approximately four years for almond and six years for walnut, every walnut tree will increase the farmer’s yearly income by 300 dollars and every almond tree by 15 dollars.  Almond trees can live longer than a century, and walnut more than four centuries.  This new revenue from the nuts will be a great help for these farmers to overcome subsistence agriculture and poverty and will promote the sustainable development of their local communities.


Achieve the dream of planting trees in schools

Amina El Hajjami Project manager with High Atlas Foundation

It's amazing when you have a dream in life and you see this dream becoming reality. This happened to me when I was a student in primary schools.

I walked 6 km from my home to my school and on the road; all the farms have trees, mostly olive trees. My school just had one big eucalyptus tree. I asked myself, who planted this beautiful trees that give shade to the students and why didn't we have more trees in my school and if we want trees, who can help schools planting them. A lot of question in my memory and I have recalled them when I started working with High Atlas Foundation.



From Marrakesh to Figuig and back – a Moroccan story about Sustainability

By Kerstin Opfer

HAF Intern


“Morocco will surprise you every day. There will be no day without a good surprise.” I will always remember these words of Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, president of the High Atlas Foundation (HAF), when I first came to Marrakesh. And each day teaches me once more how right he was. During the last week I had the one-time opportunity to accompany HAF’s President and the retired Peace Corps Country Director of Morocco, Ellen Paquette, to a business trip around Morocco and experienced first-hand the magic of this country.


Our trip started with the annual tree planting celebration at the January 16th event in Temara-Skhirat, near Rabat. The High Atlas Foundation planted trees together with the United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco, Dwight Bush, Sr., school children, and teachers. To host the very last public event of Ambassador Bush before he returned to the United States was an honour for HAF, and it took place on the anniversary of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It was breath-taking to see the student’s motivation when they recognized how volunteerism and combined community efforts are able to create sustainable development.



Propelled by this spirit we drove to Fes where we were welcomed warmly by Mustafa Mouslih, the director of the Association of Volunteer Development Experts. Professor Berrada, another member of the association invited us to his family, where we had a delicious meal, inspiring talks and music. Sitting together in their living room, singing “We are the world” accompanied by the guitar of the family’s son Amine will always be memorable for me. I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality, their creativity and spirit.


Growing trees with schoolchildren in five schools in Youssoufia: A sustainable act of HAF

HAF’s dream in the 2017 planting season is to reach new places; this dream came true with five schools in two communes (Gantour and Sbiaat) in the Province of Youssoufia: the Al Faouariaa, Inbiaat, and Sidi Ahmed primary schools; the High School Andalus; and the Al Banae Middle school.

On January 16th (annually on the third Monday of January), HAF’s Larbi Didouqen and Fatima Zahra Laaribi traveled to five schools throughout the day to celebrate a memorable planting event with members of local communities, including Amal Alghad Association for for Rural Woman and Child, Binae Association for Sustainable Development, Network Development Association, representatives for the provincial delegation of education in Yossoufia, as well as representatives of the communal council, presidents of parents associations and of course the directors of the five schools.



Moroccan Girls’ School: A Shining Example

by Said Bennani


On January 16, 2017, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) distributed thousands of trees in 50 locations throughout 16 provinces in a coordinated national effort to raise awareness of the environment and of Morocco’s sustainable development goals.

One success story comes from the students who attend the Tidili-Mesfioua Boarding School for Girls. Last year HAF delivered 25 pomegranate trees, 50 almond trees, 50 pine trees, and 62 carob trees to this school. Though several of the trees were still small saplings when they were delivered, one year later the trees had not only survived but were thriving! HAF staff were delighted to see the trees growing so well and are very proud of the girls, teachers, and administrators who supported the trees’ growth.



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HAF tweets

HafFdtn We are just happy to share and plant some trees – particularly walnut that can live 500 years.
HafFdtn The regional integration approach promotes trade within a restricted geographic area.
HafFdtn HAF will do its very best to give back to rural Moroccan communities by encouraging their sustainable development. Best, Kerstin
HafFdtn Witnessing poverty, generosity and peacefulness in mind, keeps me thinking, how much I take for granted and don’t appreciate as I should.
HafFdtn The revenue from nuts will help farmers to overcome subsistence agriculture and poverty and will promote sustainable development projects.
HafFdtn Almond trees can live longer than a century, and walnut more than four centuries.
HafFdtn Once mature, every walnut tree will increase the farmer’s yearly income by $300 and every almond tree by $15.
HafFdtn Unemployment is highest among young in Morocco, with 33% of 15-to-24-year-olds and 26% of 25-to-34-year-olds unemployed (MPI Report, 2008).

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