The Moulouya River is one of the largest permanent rivers in Morocco. From its source in the High Atlas, the watershed extends over 74,000km2, and drains the high plateau in the east, the High Atlas in the south, the Middle Atlas in the west and the eastern Rif in the north-west, to reach the eastern Mediterranean coast of Morocco.

The Issue

Since 2007, the IUCN Mediterranean Centre for Cooperation and the Freshwater Biodiversity Unit have been managing a project funded by the European Union, on The Integration of aquatic biodiversity considerations in the planning of management in Africa. The part of this project concerning to the Moulouya river basin was a response to the deterioration of water resources in the basin due to the multiplication of pollution sources (domestic, industrial or agricultural), aggravated by the periods of drought, and resulting in a loss of water resources and a severe impact on the aquatic biodiversity.

What has been done?

The main objective was to set up a pilot project for the integrated management of aquatic biodiversity at the level of the Moulouya hydrographical basin, by involving stakeholders in setting up common objectives for the conservation and integration of freshwater biodiversity data in the decision-making process and management plans of the basin. The project has been carried out in close collaboration with the Moulouya River Basin Agency (ABHM), and regional partners (University of Oujda) in Morocco.

Key outcomes include:

  • An established laboratory and network for monitoring freshwater biodiversity in the region.
  • Raised awareness and understanding on the state of biodiversity of the Moulouya through the “Moulouya Caravan” - an itinerant exhibition that ran throughout the river basin targeting local decision makers, schools, universities, and NGOs, including the dissemination of field guides on the freshwater flora and fauna present in the Moulouya region.
  • Training of the local freshwater experts and managers involved in the Moulouya Basin on the use of the IUCN Red List methodology, field survey and GIS techniques.
  • A completed baseline regional freshwater biodiversity assessment.
  • Publication of recommendations from scientific findings and a process for integration of biodiversity knowledge in environmental planning.
  • Recommendations presented to regional freshwater biodiversity experts and decision makers.