We provide communities with trees from our network of community-managed nurseries. This allows farming communities to explore the option of diversifying their crops and adding higher-value products to their market strategy.
There are many co-benefits to planting trees besides the potential for increased revenue and resilience. Trees help stabilize eroding areas, provide shade, improve soils, store carbon, and are an integral factor in sustainable landscape management.
Through the High Atlas Foundation’s House of Life project, inter-religious partnerships are manifested through a unique partnership between the Moroccan Jewish community and neighboring Muslim farming communities. The program facilitates the free loan of land adjoining Jewish burial sites to host organic tree and medicinal plant nurseries built and funded by HAF for the benefit of neighboring agricultural communities.
In 2012, the House of Life project was established at Akrich, the site of the 700-year-old tomb of Rabbi Raphael Hacohen. Since then, HAF has planted 150,000 almond, fig, pomegranate, and lemon seeds in the nursery, which have reached maturity and are maintained by a network of over 1,000 farmers and 130 local schools.
Our nurseries are multidimensional, as they grow tree saplings for distribution and promote interfaith collaboration, women’s socio-economic development, and green employment opportunities. As of 2023, the High Atlas Foundation supports and maintains 15 tree nurseries in Morocco. These nurseries are located on land lent-in-kind by the Moroccan Jewish Community, the Ministry of Education, the National Agency for Water and Forests, public universities, and municipal and provincial public administrations.
During the distribution season, saplings are transplanted from the nearest nursery to local farming families, cooperatives, schools, and various organizations.
In the 2022-23 season, the High Atlas Foundation supported the planting of 1,000,000 trees by providing affordable saplings and hands-on support, benefitting 5500 farming families.
These projects are marked by an ethic of mutual care by the farmers, co-ops, communities, and schools who manage the planting sites. The trees enhance soil fertility, air quality, and water retention; they can reduce or prevent erosion, serve as windbreaks, and offer shade, mitigating the damaging effects of climate change on the local ecosystem.
Morocco has experienced a dangerous increase in wildfires over the past decade, and the summer of 2022 was marked by historically disastrous fires in northern Morocco due to drought and extreme heat.
HAF's objective, in partnership with the Moroccan National Agency of Water and Forest and local communities, is to assess the most heavily impacted areas and provide relief through reforestation. By applying our participatory approach to this context, the High Atlas Foundation is rehabilitating regional agroforestry systems by planting native species and providing a pathway for human development in communities heavily affected by wildfires.
We intend to plant 15 million trees on 51,173 hectares – 46,499 hectares of public land, and 4,674 hectares of private land – to restore forests and agricultural orchards in areas destroyed by the recent fires. In addition to planting trees to mitigate past damage, we will also provide infrastructure (such as fire trenches) to minimize future fire risk. Land oversight of the reforested area is shared between communities affected by the forest fires and the National Agency for Water and Forests and the Ministry of Agriculture.
Our rigorous monitoring process ensures the transparency and effectiveness of our tree-planting projects and is a crucial step toward moving into the voluntary carbon market.
Before selecting a nursery or planting site, we use an adaptive management system (AMS) from data collected through a mobile application for remote sensing. The AMS evaluates the terrain and notes the available water resources (water table, water retention in the soil, irrigation and solar water pump systems, household wastewater), crop and intercropping systems, and climate data.
With an intense series of metrics and observations, we measure and report the number and types of trees distributed, the GPS coordinates and size of the planting site, the tree’s height, diameter, and growth progress, as well as survival rates.