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Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco

by High Atlas Foundation
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco
Plant Trees to Empower Farming Families in Morocco

World Rainforest Day was started in 2017, with the hope that we take time to collectively recognize the preciousness and the importance of our world’s rainforests and take action to protect and preserve them. This year, World Rainforest Day is being celebrated Monday, June 22, and it is truly worth celebrating everywhere because rainforests and forests all over the world are vital for our ecosystem, climate system, and human and animal livelihoods.

Extensive deforestation is happening around the world. Deforestation for mining, logging, and animal agricultural purposes contribute to 20% of greenhouse gas emissions, which is a significant contributor to climate change. Even in Northern Africa and Morocco, deforestation and human impact are high, largely due to the growing population and increasing land conversion for agriculture, a large sector of the economy. On one hand, agriculture (especially animal agriculture) is a primary reason for forest degradation, soil erosion, overexploitation of land, and hence 20% greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. However, agriculture can have a positive impact on the environment, if done environmentally- and climate-consciously. Studies suggest that planting a billion hectares of trees--more than half a trillion trees--can capture approximately 205 gigatons of carbon, reduce atmospheric carbon (a greenhouse gas) by roughly 25%, and mitigate, to some extent, negative effects of climate change.

While reforestation can help reduce our carbon footprint, this is only a fraction of the climate change “solution.” There are many ways to help the earth, the environment, and inhabitants, and educating ourselves is an integral first step. We need to be more aware of the long term effects of our personal decisions--from the food we eat and the products we buy--and we need to keep large corporations and industries accountable for their role in contributing to climate change. As consumers, we hold the bargaining power to make immense and sustainable change. We can consciously choose how to spend our time and our money to best have a positive impact on the environment, and choosing to support locally, sustainably grown food and farmers is another step in the right direction.

Since its inception in 2000, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) has wholeheartedly put sustainable development and Moroccan communities at the center of its mission, implementing local initiatives in areas of sustainable agriculture, education, health, women’s and youth empowerment, and capacity-building. Growing trees, registering carbon credits, and certifying organic have been some of the many important ways HAF has consciously put the earth, its inhabitants, and its future generations at the forefront of sustainable development. Since 2003, HAF and communities have planted more than 4 million seeds and trees with farming families and schools, and approximately 10,000 household incomes are impacted (60,000 rural people). Additionally, HAF partners with various government, civil, and private agencies in Morocco and internationally that also prioritize reforestation to create connections and to assist Moroccan communities. The HAF-Ecosia partnership is planting 2.4 million seeds in two years from 2019-2021, which will greatly contribute to Moroccan livelihoods. By allowing the Moroccan people to reap the fruits of combined efforts of many actors’ labor, sustainable agriculture goes far beyond the fields--supporting the environment and livelihoods, as well as building relationships between the people, the government, and various intercultural groups.

The people and our environment are intricately interconnected. Our actions have the power to create a sustainable future that takes into account both the positive and negative impacts we can have on our environment. All people need to be aware of how their actions can hurt or help the earth. Educating yourself, donating money or time to rainforest protectors, and spreading the word is a huge step in protecting the earth and its rainforests, because our actions--conscious or not--impact our world, and people all over the world more than we often realize.

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For decades, climate change has been left to scientists – and they, to their credit, have given us the strong indication we need that climate change is happening and that it is caused by human decisions and actions. What clearly appears to us to be the most pressing problem is caused by people, with impacts on people, and must be solved by people. The impacts are as much social as physical, and the solutions as much legal as technical, but yet the world is haltingly working on balance and justice toward the climate. This lets us ask the following questions: Do we have enough solutions to get rid of this problem? And do we have the sufficient ideas to achieve climate justice?

The world is moving forward in terms of scientific and technological progress, yet in spite of these spectacular strides in science and technology, and unlimited ones to come, we are still facing a great urgency, one of the most critical items on the agenda of modern life. Climate change is astonishingly impacting our everyday lives in many ways. Climate change is affecting human health, infrastructure, and transportation systems, as well as energy, food, and water supplies while we still seek the right means to figure out solutions.

While we are working on an established and common agreement, all nations join in a common cause, undertaking ambitious , such as keeping the global temperature rise this century within only 1.5-2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. We can work to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so. We need to look simultaneously at the role other legal instruments from the fields of human rights and laws can play, seeking to fill out the uncertain relationship between disengaged local actors and global leaders.

Every one of us should have a sense that climate change is not just a climate issue but a deeply-rooted development issue, an economic issue, a rights issue, and a legal issue. Therefore, any approach to finding a legal and just solution needs to be based in all relevant aspects of the law at the national, regional, and international levels. Such an approach allows all civil society sectors and individuals to submit their proposals and express their ideas to their governments.

As we all should believe that a global solution is not just an issue for decision makers working at the international levels, the that will feed the changes we need are coming from local communities, entrepreneurs, women, young people, small-scale farmers, researchers, scientists, town planners and those who hold indigenous knowledge. This requires a strong commitment and enduring confidence with locals in order to support their actions in implementing environmental initiatives and to empower them to rely on participatory planning as a principle – one that wonderfully accelerates addressing any issue in a collective way. More importantly, the fundamental partners, who should not only be technically supporting this approach to make it successful but also financially standing alongside these local communities’ actors and investing directly in them, are the major companies, especially those who directly contribute to pollution.

The fact is that the current climate issue seems far from solved, but the truth is that we have quick,efficient ways to do so, and they are reflected in the following steps.

The world cannot respond adequately to climate change unless we give those most affected a voice, listen to their solutions, and empower them to act. The very best way do so is community planning and participatory approach meetings that perfectly reflect what they carry in their hearts. We also have to transform our current economic system into one based on low-carbon production and consumption, so that we can create inclusive sustainable development. Moreover, we have to deal with risks posed by climate change that present a serious threat to nature and people, now and in the future; invest in sensible solutions; and build local environmental initiatives and programs uniting all societal sectors in designing and managing them. In addition to that, strong legal frameworks can provide certainty to ensure transparency, longevity, credibility, and effective enforcement of climate and related policies. These are necessary steps to protect those people most at risk from the impacts of climate change.

Quote: Trees cannot plant themselves, and that is a job opportunity. Therefore, this will address social, development and environmental problems.

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I hope wherever you are, you are well and feeling positive every day. Wherever you may be, we must press on and hopefully find special meaning in whatever we are doing as it relates to the time that we are in.

At HAF in Morocco, we find even deeper meaning in building partnerships at all levels with all sectors. Community empowerment and all the support we can give is the best we can do to ensure health and vital growth. And yes, there is urgency to planting trees that might require a decade to ultimately affect the livelihood course of a farming family, but still it must be done today.

A wonder of tree planting is that its environmentally and economically transformative power is as real as their growth and can effectively be done remaining safely distant from one another. A marginalized rural family’s way of pressing on is to plant on, and I hope you join us in planting with them by giving.

HAF receives requests from communities all over Morocco for many millions more trees than we are currently able to provide. Seasons pass with unrealized hope. Trees provide the generational security and basis for self-reliance and partnership we all seek.

Let us create silver linings that overcome difficulty over time.

Wishing you and all the best in everything,

Yossef Ben-Meir


High Atlas Foundation, Marrakech

Plant Trees for Cents and Centuries












Plant Trees for Cents and Centuries

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Earth is greatly negatively affected by climate change. This is observed through rising sea levels, hurricanes, floods, forest fires, and other adverse environmental impacts. Immediate measures must be taken to mitigate or adapt to climate change and save the Earth.

In this regard, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF), in partnership with Ecosia and Moroccan stakeholders such as the High Commission of Water and Forests, local cooperatives and associations, Child Protection Centers of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and universities, are partnering to implement and manage 11 organic fruit tree nurseries. The goal is to produce and distribute some 2.44 million organic fruit trees over the next two years. 

So, how can these trees contribute to maintaining the ecosystem and protecting the Earth? Here are a couple of examples:

  • Planting trees can help reduce runoff and erosion by obstructing rainfall and flow.Trees play a key role in enhancing environmental performance because of their ability to store carbon and form ecosystems. This also reduces the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Trees take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it, reducing pollution and the threat of global warming.
  • Planting organic fruit trees helps preserve the soil through the trees’ root systems. Tree roots improve the cohesion of the soil, thereby enhancing its mechanical properties and allowing the earth to consolidate. This also plays a role in the thermoregulation of the Earth.

Why is the High Atlas Foundation involved in organic agriculture in the nurseries? And how does this plan contribute both to efforts to reverse climate change and to the socio-economic development of Moroccan society? Here’s our take:

  • Organic agriculture contributes to sustainable development by protecting the environment, reducing soil erosion and desertification, reducing pollution, improving biological diversity and productivity, and it alsopromotes good health.
  • HAF nurseries recycle materials and resources as much as possible using organic fertilisers, substituting for the use of chemical pesticides. They also cultivate high quality, disease-resistant seeds, select high quality soil for agriculture, ensure that trees are regularly irrigated, and engage in the periodic monitoring of tree growth and weed removal.
  • HAF aims to develop economically villages throughout rural Morocco. We help at-risk villages by planting trees on their land with the intention that, in the future, these trees will become a source of income. By planting trees and working the land, instead of leaving it bare, these projects not only contribute to sustainable economic development, but also to natural heritage preservation efforts. This is why HAF nurseries distribute  to local partners in various geographically diverse provinces (i.e., Fes, Azilal, Al Haouz, Oujda): to bring our trees closer to the population for greater short- and long-term impact on people’s lives.
  • Moroccans recognize the land of their parents and grandparents as a major part of their identity. This land and its utilization is an expression of themselves and their family ancestry. Planting trees in these spaces is a way to preserve the land for future generations.

Organic agriculture contributes to sustainable development, providing an ongoing source of income for families and ensuring the sustainability of farms and orchards from one generation to the next, thus conserving earth's natural resources.

We live on the same earth, and we need to share in common efforts that bring us closer to one another and our planet--something that strengthens our global kinship.This is why HAF plants trees in partnership with local communities--with associations, cooperatives, farmers, schools and other public institutions. To us, planting trees together is an unwavering symbol of solidarity, kindness, care, and action.

It was when I started working with HAF and gaining literal hands-on experience in organic agriculture and with planting trees in and alongside rurals communities that I began to really understand ecosystems and the complex and brilliant importance of trees in our lives and our world. Truly, there is a big difference between studying biology at the university and applying it to everyday work and life. So please, we hope you will join us in spreading the message, growing our kinship, and planting trees to create the best future we can--together.

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Is it hubris, that in the face of worry and challenge and fundamental concerns about the future, that we put aside from what we may have, to plant trees for a tomorrow - a benefit for a distant day?

May it actually be our nature to uphold nature, even when we are confronted so suddenly with a threat to ourselves and to people we hold dear?

Yes, we are saying - plant trees. Plant them now. Plant them well and far. Plant with us. Ask others to plant. Plant in the face of our shared trial.

When the same wisdom from a most and least far past, and from places surrounding and furthest – that is, when a specific knowledge from across time and place – is delivered in front of us, it seems an interesting pearl, and one to take to heart.

Planting life seeds is practical and soulful, it is for today and tomorrow, it refines our bodies and mind, it satisfies all senses, it brings a beautiful rest, it is personal and communal for all coming time, it is the epitome of existence, especially when we do it with children.

It is also what we can do right now. Plant with hope in the face of confinement, restriction, and scare about health.

Today, we cannot do it with schools, but a farmer can do it in a nursery and field – a lovely opening for an everlasting good, in the face of a trial.

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Organization Information

High Atlas Foundation

Location: New York, NY - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @haffdtn
Project Leader:
Yossef Ben-Meir
President of the High Atlas Foundation
Gueliz - Marrakech, Morocco
$31,483 raised of $50,000 goal
360 donations
$18,517 to go
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