In the heart of Morocco's scenic landscapes, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) endeavors to create a lasting impact on both nature and communities. As an Intern of HAF from Austria, the experience of visiting the nursery in Akrich, where organic trees flourish amidst Jewish burial sites, evokes a complex array of emotions. Surrounded by thousands of growing tree saplings destined for neighboring agricultural communities, there is a palpable sense of peacefulness and harmony. However, the stark reality quickly emerges – these trees face an uphill battle for survival in the face of record-high temperatures and water scarcity.
HAF's commitment to sustainable development goes far beyond the nurturing of tree nurseries. With nine nurseries containing over 2.3 million trees, the organization recognizes the multifaceted nature of community empowerment. Women's empowerment takes center stage as a catalyst for a more collaborative and socioeconomically integrated future. Through initiatives like the IMAGINE workshops, Legal Clinic program, and Family Literacy program, HAF has been able to touch the lives of thousands of women and girls in Morocco.
Amidst these initiatives, the core of HAF's work lies in planting and distributing trees, providing rural communities with the means to diversify crops and explore higher-value products. Beyond the potential for increased revenue, trees contribute to stabilizing eroding areas, providing shade, improving soils, and storing carbon. In the 2022-23 season alone, HAF supported the planting of one million trees, benefiting 5500 farming families.
Morocco, like many regions, faces the grim consequences of climate change, exemplified by an increase in wildfires. HAF, in partnership with the Moroccan National Agency of Water and Forest and local communities, is actively working to rehabilitate agroforestry systems in areas devastated by wildfires. The goal is ambitious – to plant 15 million trees on 51,173 hectares, restoring forests and agricultural orchards.
WE4F, a joint international initiative, plays a pivotal role in supporting organizations like HAF, and we are profoundly grateful for the invaluable support from its esteemed donors. Through generous contributions from partners such as the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the European Union (EU), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of the Netherlands, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), WE4F empowers innovations that unlock missing inputs, finance, technology, and markets for farmers around the world. This support is crucial for achieving climate resilience and reducing CO2 emissions in the agricultural sector.
In the face of climate change and recent seismic events, HAF remains committed to sustainable development. The importance of adapting methodologies to enable communities to thrive in their unique ways cannot be overstated. The journey of challenges and triumphs, made possible by WE4F, underscores the urgency of collaborative efforts for a functioning future.
Abderrahim Beddah, the main caretaker of the Akrich nursery, among tree saplings. Photograph: By HAF
As one sits in a nursery in Morocco, it is a universal truth that similar scenes unfold in nurseries worldwide. Each community adapts methodologies according to its values, priorities, and goals. The common thread is the shared goal of sustainable development – a world where nature and humanity coexist harmoniously. HAF's journey, documented for WE4F, becomes a testament to the power of collective action in the face of global challenges.