A workshop to develop a roadmap for the transition of BirdLife
engagement in Morocco from a country programme to the typical NGO representation
has been held at the Hotel Ibis in Rabat, Morroco from 26-27 September 2011.
|Morocco holds the main population of Northern Bald Ibis in the world (image: Peter Los)|
The BirdLife Partnership has been active in Morocco for more than 15
years through a Country Programme managed initially by BirdLife International,
then by RSPB, and later by SEO/BirdLife, with the engagement of other BirdLife
Supporting Partners and the BirdLife Africa Secretariat. This has always been
in close cooperation with the Moroccan authorities, particularly the High
Commission of Water and Forest and Fight against Desertification (Haut
Commissariat aux Eaux et Forêts et à la Lutte Contre la Désertification).
In keeping with its vision for developing national capacity, BirdLife
International has had a long standing desire for the transition of the
representation of the Partnership in Morocco from a country programme to a
national Moroccan NGO.
Various efforts have since taken place towards this goal, involving the
Council for the Africa Partnership, SEO/BirdLife, RSPB and VBN (Vogelbescherming
Nederland) and the BirdLife Africa Secretariat. These interested
parties developed a project titled “Strengthening BirdLife in Morocco:
Conservation strategy and NGO development”, through which a plan and set
activities were started in 2010, with the aim of transforming BirdLife representation
in Morocco to a national NGO by 2012.
“A strong foundation has been set in the transition of the
representation of BirdLife in Morocco from a country programme to NGO” remarked
Fred Wouters, Director of VBN and member of the BirdLife Global Council who
participated at a workshop to work out modalities for the collaboration between
the BirdLife Morocco Programme and GREPOM (Groupe
de Recherche pour la Protection des Oiseaux du Maroc). “The pace of transition now rests with
GREPOM and the BirdLife Morocco Programme, who must work with the BirdLife
Africa Partnership and Secretariat to signal when they are ready to advance
towards BirdLife affiliation”.
“We have already lost a lot of time and wasted efforts working
separately in the conservation of biodiversity in Morocco” remarked Prof. Mohamed
Dakki, President of GREPOM while accepting to the road map. “By bringing
together the capacities of GREPOM and the BirdLife Morocco Programme and the
international support from BirdLife, we will achieve much more conservation
impact for birds and people in Morocco”.
The workshop brought together national and regional representatives of
the members of GREPOM, the BirdLife Morocco Programme, SEO/BirdLife, VBN and
BirdLife Secretariat. The BirdLife Africa Partnership, through the Chairman of
the Council for the Africa Partnership, sent a message recognizing that GREPOM
is now the sole contact NGO that will be supported to work with the BirdLife
Morocco programme to achieve the transition in BirdLife representation. “This
workshop can be likened to the start of a courtship leading to a marriage
between GREPOM and the BirdLife Morocco Programme to become one member of the
BirdLife family” remarked Julius Arinaitwe, who delivered the message to Prof.
Mohammed Dakki. “The letter can be considered as the blessing from the parents
for the courtship to begin, and we are all looking forward to the wedding, when
a BirdLife Affiliate in Morocco will be recognized”.
A visibly elated Asuncion Riuz, Director of SEO/BirdLife could not hide
her pleasure. “This is a very happy occasion for SEO/BirdLife, who under a
mandate from BirdLife Global Council is responsible for the BirdLife programme
in Morocco. For a long time, we have worked hard to get the local capacity in
place to lead in the very important bird Conservation issues in Morocco. This
workshop is a concrete step in realizing this dream. We will continue to work
hard, together with other partners, to support this initiative as much as
possible for however long it takes. ”
Several presentations helped to set the scene, with a key one by Dr
Hazell Shokellu Thompson, Assistant Director in charge of Network and Capacity
Development, who explained BirdLife International and the key criteria that
have to be met by GREPOM to become a BirdLife Affiliate and advance within the
BirdLife Partnership. Dr Imad Cherkaoui presented a draft roadmap that has
three phases, the first one focused on collaboration between BirdLife Morocco
Programme and GREPOM, the second looking at admission of GREPOM as the BirdLife
Affiliate for Morocco and the Country programme acting as a Secretariat for
GREPOM and the final stage with the Country Programme fully integrated within
GREPOM. This is a process that will take some time, and good collaboration.
The rest of the workshop engaged the two main Partners to discuss and
agree mechanisms for coordination, implementation and monitoring of the road
map, including the steps required to develop more detailed workplans.
Prior to the workshop, participants went out on an excursion organized
by GREPOM and the BirdLife Morocco Programme to Larache Lower Loukkos wetlands,
where GREPOM is implementing conservation and awareness raising programme.
Dakki, President of GREPOM (left), and Dr Julius Arinaitwe, Regional Director for
BirdLife Africa Secretariat (right) at the Rabat workshop (Photo: Dr Barend van
of the Rabat workshop (Photo: Dr Barend van Gemerden, Vogelbescherming Nederland).
Brief information about Morocco
Morocco offers a tremendous diversity of habitats and climates which
support a wide range of interesting species plants (almost 4000 recognised
plants of which 17% are endemic), butterflies, amphibians reptiles (50% more
than in the whole of Europe), mammals and, most notably, birds with 481 bird
Morocco harbours the last wild breeding colonies in the world of Geronticus
eremita (CR), a formerly widespread species; and until recently, was a
regular wintering site for small numbers of Numenius tenuirostris (CR).
There are globally significant breeding and wintering populations of Marmaronetta
angustirostris (VU) and Falco naumanni (VU), and significant
wintering populations of Larus audouinii (NT).
Morocco is a bottleneck of a main migration route between Europe and
Africa for tens of millions of western Palearctic migrants. Up to 200,000
raptors and 90,000 storks and Cranes have been recorded passing across the
Straits of Gibraltar at Jbel Moussa in northern Morocco. Most of the coastal
wetlands and many of the inland waters are crucial resting and refuelling
stops, or overwintering sites, for water birds using the ‘Atlantic Coastal
Flyway’ that descends the western seaboard of continental Europe and Africa
from Norway to Senegal and beyond.
A total of 46 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) is identified covering 30,338
km2, equivalent to 4.3% of the country’s land area.
from the workshop obtained via Dr Imad Cherkaoui (BirdLife Morocco Programme).