In recent years in Morocco, a sharp decline has been witnessed due to deforestation, land degradation, the dwindling numbers of butterflies caused by the loss of live plants, insecticide use, and climate change effects such as untimely storms and reduced rainfall.
To make a positive environmental impact, the latter half of autumn and the first half of winter prove to be an excellent time for tree planting. We celebrate this opportunity the third Monday of January each year. The High Atlas Foundation (HAF) takes necessary actions and raises awareness about trees during this significant time.
One might wonder, why was Tree Planting Day established? There are several reasons to celebrate this day, highlighting the importance of this day as follows:
- This event has been taking place in January since 2014 when HAF and communities planted their millionth tree in partnership.
- It coincides with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, which celebrates the same dedication to community and sustainable development represented by the HAF.
However, this is not only the ideal time for planting in Morocco but also a movement that unites us in creating positive change amid our global environment. Trees are considered the backbone of our planet, and planting them is just one part of a larger mosaic of necessary actions to address the climate crisis. This involves restoring ancient forests and empowering small-scale farmers in vulnerable regions with sustainable fruit-bearing trees that can transform their lives.
Through the partnership between the HAF and the Faculty of Legal, Economic, and Social Sciences in Marrakech, we had the opportunity to get our hands in the soil, connect with the land, and give back to nature. This experience allowed us to understand what is happening to the environment around us—a truly significant step towards a greener and more beautiful future within the corridors of the faculty.
Every planted seedling faces unique challenges and opportunities, but when reforestation is done correctly, it positively changes lives. Planting trees for impact contributes to the restoration of natural landscapes, rebuilding the environment by ensuring or accelerating the recreation of healthy forest structures after extreme events like wildfires, and preserving biodiversity within ecosystems.
In addition to social and economic benefits, trees also provide immense environmental and health advantages. With the deterioration of air quality worldwide, trees play a significant role in purifying the air, trapping pollutants, and supplying large amounts of pure oxygen.
Initiatives by HAF, in collaboration with its various partners, work towards fostering community engagement by supporting marginalized communities, generating sustainable income, and creating employment opportunities. With ongoing wildfires, reforestation remains an opportunity to reclaim severely damaged lands that have lost their ability to regenerate naturally. These trees are planted in various regions of Morocco to assist economically marginalized communities and improve their health and well-being through projects designed to enhance livelihoods for generations that may not have achieved them before.
Tree planting also plays a vital role in ecosystems and helps stabilize our climate by absorbing carbon and storing significant amounts of it, placing it at the forefront of the global climate crisis. Therefore, natural tree planting brings people together, heals communities, and stimulates local economies.
We have witnessed the amazing things that can be achieved when we work together for a common cause, and when a large number of ordinary individuals come together to take direct action, it can lead to extraordinary change in our community. One tree means a lot.
The question remains: Why this particular day? To send a powerful message to the rest of the world about the tremendous possibilities that can be achieved when we all work together toward a common goal.