During the month of February the High Atlas Foundation and its partners planted 33,000 fruit trees (cherry, apple, peach, and quince) with villages in the Imenane and Azzadene Valleys in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains. Did you know that Central Park has just over 26,000 trees? For those of you who have wandered the Park’s many meandering paths you can imagine what 33,000 trees will look like when fully grown – quite a sight indeed!
Approximately 3,000 people from twenty villages will benefit from this tree planting project. The benefits of fruit tree agriculture are deep and enduring and are especially tangible when it comes to the socio-economic development of rural communities. Household incomes on average double, once trees reach maturity and the fruits are sold at local markets. Cherry trees that are just six years old produce an average of 500 MAD ($65 USD) of fruit per season, forty-two times the initial investment of 12 MAD ($1.55 USD) for the two year old sapling. Talk about return on investment!
This project is a partnership among the High Atlas Foundation, the Global Diversity Foundation, the Association des Amis du CHU, the Province d’ Al Haouz, the Marrakech Department of Waters and Forests, the Department of Agriculture for the High Atlas, the Marrakech21 Foundation, Dar Tassa , Kasbah Tamadot, and Kasbah Toubkal. Participants identified the types of trees they wished to receive and this partnership funded the purchase and distribution of them, as well as provided technical training in fruit tree agriculture.
This ongoing partnership provided 17,000 fruit trees last year and 3,400 in 2006 for villages in these valleys, allowing the planting of 53,400 fruit trees during the past three years. In addition, this partnership supports other socio-economic activities in the region including projects in public health, education, and women’s development.
We are grateful to be working with Marrakech-based photographer Dennie Kirtley who has donated his time and talents to take breathtaking and detailed photographs of HAF’s projects and work with rural Moroccan communities. Click here to see a selection of photos from this tree planting project.
Since 2003 the High Atlas Foundation has planted approximately 150,000 fruit trees with rural communities –thank you to everyone who has played a role in helping us to reach our goal of planting one million trees!