MOROCCO: In Sidi Belyout, development work compromises biodiversity

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MOROCCO: In Sidi Belyout, development work compromises biodiversity© Youssef Douib/Shutterstock

Faced with population growth and road congestion in Sidi Belyout, one of the 16 districts of Casablanca in Morocco, the local authorities are transplanting 135 trees to widen the roads. However, this operation puts the preservation of urban biodiversity back on the agenda in this North African country.

This is a divisive issue in Morocco. In the municipality of Sidi Belyout in Casablanca, the local authorities have announced the transplanting of 132 trees as part of the redevelopment of the roadway and the road system of Avenue Hassan Souktani. “The roots of these trees are a real nuisance for the infrastructure as they fatally damage the road infrastructure, not to mention the damage they cause to the underground drinking water and sewage network,” explains Kenza Chraibi, the president of the municipal district.

Although the project will allow Sidi Belyout, and in particular the Gauthier district, to regain its former splendour, some local residents see it as an attack on urban biodiversity. In fact, these trees, in addition to encouraging walks and recreational activities in this locality of 180,000 inhabitants, also help to reduce the extreme heat in the Cherifian kingdom.

For his part, Said Sabiti, a member of the Council of Sidi Belyout believes that this is an act of vandalism. “I personally followed the trucks that transported the felled trees and most of them were sent to ovens. Only six were replanted on the road to El Jadida next to the faculties. They remained scattered in the neighbourhood for two days. So, how could these trees keep their freshness so that they can be replanted elsewhere?

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However, the municipality reassures that these trees, of which “75 are at the end of their life and 57 are perfectly healthy”, will be replanted in more suitable locations in the Moroccan economic capital. Following the example of Sidi Belyout, other Moroccan municipalities must integrate the management of natural spaces into urban planning. This is the reason why the Green Week was created. For its fourth edition in 2023, the initiative of the Moroccan Association of Teachers of Life and Earth Sciences has led to the creation of green spaces in 25 cities, including the planting of 100 trees around the Hermitage garden in Casablanca.

Benoit-Ivan Wansi

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