Restoring Morocco's Biodiversity through Agroforestry

High Atlas Foundation
Published: 04 November 2021
Last edited: 04 November 2021
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High Atlas Foundation (HAF) and its partners focus on restoring native plants and trees to rehabilitate Moroccan biodiversity. Through agroforestry methods, HAF aims to push back against the effects of climate change, including desertification, irregular rainfall, and rising temperatures. Trees grown in HAF's nurseries are provided to farming families and education centers, who are the sole beneficiaries of the yields. HAF’s tree nursery projects are managed by the people who plant, irrigate, maintain, harvest, and gain income from them. The goal is to integrate communities in land rehabilitation, promote native species and sustainable livelihoods, and systematically monitor trees in the nursery and fields. HAF builds the capacities of agricultural cooperatives and rural people in food safety, financial management, marketing, and the development of agricultural business plans. 



North Africa
Scale of implementation
Coastal desert
Cold desert
Desert ecosystems
Forest ecosystems
Grassland ecosystems
Green spaces (parks, gardens, urban forests)
Hot desert
Temperate evergreen forest
Temperate grassland, savanna, shrubland
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Cities and infrastructure
Ecosystem services
Erosion prevention
Forest Management
Gender mainstreaming
Genetic diversity
Indigenous people
Legal & policy frameworks
Local actors
Standards/ certification
Sustainable financing
Traditional knowledge
Erratic rainfall
Loss of Biodiversity
Ecosystem loss
Pollution (incl. eutrophication and litter)
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of technical capacity
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
Aichi targets
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 13: Safeguarding genetic diversity
Sendai Framework
Target 2: Reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with associations


Meknes, Fès-Meknès, Morocco
Ifrane, Fès-Meknès, Morocco
Ouaouizert, Béni Mellal-Khénifra, Morocco
Tameslouht, Marrakesh-Safi, Morocco
Oukaimeden, Marrakesh-Safi, Morocco
Ouirgane, Marrakesh-Safi, Morocco
Imgdal, Marrakesh-Safi, Morocco
Taroudant, Souss-Massa, Morocco
Agoudim, Drâa-Tafilalet, Morocco
Guercif, Oriental, Morocco


Native varieties of trees are experiencing a steep decline, and some have gone extinct, threatened by destructive farming practices leading to degraded soils and polluted ecosystems. Morocco’s water supply is rated as extremely high stress. The agricultural sector is by far the largest consumer of water, and this in combination with decreased precipitation trends and higher global temperatures could lead to a massive decline in agricultural productivity. Under the most extreme climate change projections, aggregate agricultural crop production could decline by 15% assuming no adaptation. In addition, the COVID crisis struck small-scale farmers with dramatic declines in revenue due to their dependency on international agrobusiness for providing seeds and fertilizer. Thus, the demand for native fruit trees is very high and rising, as are their prices, making it difficult for farming families to transition from growing staple crops to the more livelihood- enhancing fruit trees. 


  • Communities of rural farming families;
  • Rural women;
  • Young women who were unable to continue their schooling;
  • At-risk youth;
  • Individuals who seek careers in organic agriculture; 
  • Those who have lost income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

How do the building blocks interact?

Since 2000, HAF has understood that addressing the bottlenecks or the severe challenges along the agricultural value stream was an essential part of overcoming rural poverty. Efforts need to go further, however, in order to address the agricultural difficulties requiring community design and management and benefit. Fruit tree planting and building nurseries has always been a core contribution of HAF to farming communities in response to their most significant requests. These building blocks interact to form a singular process that is based on building trust and mutual respect with all of the various sectors of Moroccan society - from rural farming families, to local and national governments. The participatory approach to project design and management (Building Block #1) is integrated into every activity that HAF conducts, and not only women's empowerment but community empowerment (Building Block #2) is a vital part of that process that enables the success of actvities such as GIS Monitoring (Building Block #3) and Tree Nursery Financing (Building Block #4), and Capacity Building for Value Adding (Building Block #5).


HAF works to promote more sustainable agricultural practices to help people adapt to climate change and improve their livelihoods. Since 2003, HAF planted approximately 4 million fruit trees in 39 provinces of Morocco, impacting 15,000 farming families through sustainable income generation and enhancing more than 650 schools. HAF’s rights-based empowerment workshops, the precursor to many of its projects, have supported over 900 women and girls in 11 regions across Morocco. These workshops have helped women realize their potential and create plans to reach their goals. As a result of these and other capacity building activities, HAF created 16 and strengthened more than 100 cooperatives and associations, particularly with women and youth (reaching two-thirds participation). 


High Atlas Foundation

Fourteen women from the Tassa Ouirgane village attended a four-day Imagine Empowerment workshop January 2019 with the High Atlas Foundation (HAF). The purpose of Imagine workshops is to enable women to create the life they most want. It is considered one of the foremost personal growth trainings available. The program focuses on seven areas of life: Emotions, Relationships, Body, Money, Work, Spirituality, and Sexuality.


Below are the testimonials of a girl and a woman, both of whom attended the workshop:


”I’m divorced, and I have a daughter. I live with my father and my mother. I want to work to help my daughter, and I’m afraid to get out of the house because of society’s contempt toward me and their lack of trust. I thank God because my family has helped me a lot, but I wish I could be independent.”

After 4 days of the empowerment training, she confirmed “I will not pay attention to the opinion of others. I will be working toward my vision to be independent, build my own home, and live with my daughter.”

This woman is now the leader of the Takhrkhourt agricultural Cooperative.


“I dropped out of middle school during the last school break. I started training in artisanal craft, but I don’t feel comfortable with the decision that I made, and I don’t know how I can tell my father.”

On the second day of the workshop, she told the other women participants: “I informed my father about how I felt, and he agrees with my decision to return to school.”


One of the results that came from the empowerment workshop and the participatory approach meetings that were conducted afterward with the same women was the vision to create an agricultural cooperative in order to capitalize upon the village’s natural resources. HAF provided them with training on the creation and role of cooperative statutes, democratic voting for decision-making in the cooperative, organizational management, environmental protection, how to plant seeds and cuttings of trees, and how to irrigate trees.


Throughout each training and workshop that the women received in 2019-2020, HAF supported them to create Cooperative Takhrkhourt, an agricultural cooperative whose membership includes one woman and four girls. In 2020 alone, Cooperative Takhrkhourt planted 40,000 olive and walnut trees in a nursery that they manage. 

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Yossef Ben-Meir High Atlas Foundation