Ifrane National Park boasts one of the most remarkable landscapes in the Kingdom of Morocco. It is home to the Cedar forests of the Atlas Mountains, ecosystems of worldwide importance, more than 24,000 animal species and an overall endemism rate of 11% for fauna, a rate almost unrivaled in the entire Mediterranean ecoregion. A number of activities coexist in the NIP, including farming, livestock breeding, timber harvesting and tourism.
However, the various pressures affecting the natural heritage of the Ifrane National Park (human overexploitation, sheep overgrazing, forest crime, mass tourism, climate change) call for action to be taken to preserve and enhance its ecosystems.
The project is part of a legislative and institutional context that is favourable to the preservation and enhancement of biodiversity in Morocco, with the recent adoption of the Moroccan Forest Strategy 2020-2030; and laws, notably the approval of the implementing decree for protected areas, and the creation of the National Water and Forest Agency (ANEF).
In the face of mass tourism concentrated on the park's emblematic sites, the project's challenges concern the enhancement and sustainable conservation of the National Park's biodiversity through the development of outdoor activities in an extensive and controlled manner, in collaboration with local communities and in keeping with the richness and sensitivity of the natural heritage. Nature sports represent an opportunity for local development, the correction of territorial inequalities and a vector for social advancement, particularly for young people and women. In particular, the project is in line with the Public Policy Loan approach to the Moroccan government, the aim of which is to support sustainable management of Morocco's forests and national parks.
The project will contribute to the country's local, economic and social development by supporting the introduction of a more participative approach to governance and management of the National Park, thanks to the involvement of the local population. By structuring extensive, low-impact tourism in the park, centred on nature sports, the project will provide economic leverage for employment, social advancement and capacity-building.
This project includes several innovations, as it is the first project in Morocco to make the link between the virtues of developing sport through outdoor activities and the conservation/management/enhancement of national parks in mountain areas while proposing sustainable solutions for financing this biodiversity conservation.
With strong potential for replication in other Moroccan National Parks, both in terms of methodological tools and the alternative funding mechanism for biodiversity conservation, this pilot project will pave the way for longer-term development of the national parks. Lastly, the project will be of direct benefit to the communities in the NIP area by offering a diversification of activities to complement traditional ones.
The project aims to contribute to the conservation of the biodiversity of the national parks, and to enhance and strengthen the resilience of their territories through the coherent and integrated development of outdoor activities and "low-carbon" activities. The overall aim is to develop, within the Ifrane National Park, an ecotourism strategy that is rooted in and consumed locally, in order to boost funding for the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable management of natural resources, and to benefit the local population. The project should also serve as a replicable model for other National Parks in Morocco.
The project has 3 specific objectives:
The project has three components: