Increasing pressure, declining water and climate change in north-eastern Morocco

Abstract

The coastal stretch of north-eastern Mediterranean Morocco holds vitally important ecological, social, and economic functions. The implementation of large-scale luxury tourism resorts shall push socio-economic development and facilitate the shift from a mainly agrarian to a service economy. Sufficient water availability and intact beaches are among the key requirements for the successful realization of regional development plans. The water situation is already critical, additional water-intense sectors could overstrain the capacity of water resources. Further, coastal erosion caused by sea-level rise is projected. Regional climate change is observable, and must be included in regional water management. Long-term climate trends are assessed for the larger region (Moulouya basin) and for the near-coastal zone at Saidia. The amount of additional water demand is assessed for the large-dimensioned Saidia resort; including the monthly, seasonal and annual tourist per capita water need under inclusion of irrigated golf courses and garden areas. A shift of climate patterns is observed, a lengthening of the dry summer season, and as well a significant decline of annual precipitation. Thus, current water scarcity is mainly human-induced; however, climate change will aggravate the situation. As a consequence, severe environmental damage due to water scarcity is likely and could impinge on the quality of local tourism. The re-adjustment of current management routines is therefore essential. Possible adjustments are discussed and the analysis concludes with management recommendations for innovative regional water management of tourism facilities.

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Acknowledgments

The work was supported by the project “ACCMA–Adaptation to Climate Change in Morocco” as part of the program ‘Adaptation aux Changements Climatiques en Afrique (ACCA)’, financed by the International Development Research Centre Canada (IDRC) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The authors would like to thank Susanne Stoll-Kleemann (University Greifswald) and three anonymous reviewers for their valuable and constructive comments on this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Vera Tekken.

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Tekken, V., Costa, L. & Kropp, J.P. Increasing pressure, declining water and climate change in north-eastern Morocco. J Coast Conserv 17, 379–388 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11852-013-0234-7

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Keywords

  • North-eastern Morocco
  • Climate change
  • Coastal zone
  • Luxury tourism
  • Water demand
  • Adaptation