United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Moroccan Sustainable Development Via Organic Fruit Nurseries and Carbon Offset Credits: Adaptive Management for Water, Energy, and Food Sustainability in Morocco and Application to the Middle East and North Africa

High Atlas Foundation (
Non-governmental organization (NGO)

    Fruit trees grown from local seeds by farming families are at the center of HAF’s agroforestry innovation. HAF will develop an adaptive management system for tree nurseries, cultivation, and monitoring, utilizing climate information from the diverse biozones of Morocco to guide decisions. As a result, HAF will be in an improved position to produce trees from its current 12 nurseries that combine to produce 1.6 saplings annually. HAF’s existing partnerships brought to scale could produce 100 million trees annually in all the biozones of Morocco, which are indicative of the MENA. HAF’s monitoring trees makes possible the generation and sale of carbon credits for reinvestment in trees.

    Implementation of the Project/Activity

    HAF’s seeks to create a model that is financially sustainable, from the sale of trees to farmers at subsidized prices and voluntary and certified carbon credits. With farming families transitioning from barley and corn to fruit trees, the Ministry of Agriculture projects that several billion trees are needed to address systemic rural poverty. This 2021 season, HAF is distributing its trees to approximately 6,000 farmers in 40 (of 62) provinces of the country. There are two phases in regard to expansion. The first is to grow from 12 nurseries to 15 and focus the new three in northern Morocco to cover distinct biozones. The monitoring of tree growth, water yields, temperatures, soil, sequestration, and environmental and social impacts will generate data from the biozones and support adaptive management. We anticipate growth between 8-12 nurseries every year, increasing annually the production and monitoring of between 6-8 million trees. HAF receives the free lending of land for nurseries from government and civil agencies. Donor support enables us to maintain low costs and generate net profit from the subsidized sale of trees to farmers, from 1/3 to 1/10 of their market value. Since the tree monitoring cost is covered by the partner Ecosia, a German social enterprise, we generate offsets at the lower end of the competitive price scale. The cost per ton of carbon sequestration is $9.60, which HAF sequesters by growing 24 trees. The gross revenue then per tree generated by the sale of its offset is $0.40. This combined with the tree sales price of $0.35, totals a gross revenue sales per unit of $0.75. Thus, at a production and monitoring cost of $0.30 per tree, the net revenue per tree, which is the sale of trees and their offsets, is $0.45.


    HAF aims to expand its nurseries, tree sales to farmers, and sales of carbon credits, achieving these milestones: Feb 2021: Develop a database of organizations committed to carbon neutrality. April 2021: Establish a HAF Certificate for socially sustainable verified carbon units. May 2021: HAF experts create an adaptive management plan. Sept 2021: Submit project design to the national authority; enter the Clean Development Mechanism. Dec 2021: 10% of revenue from certificates sold on the compliance market Jan 2022: Build partnerships in the transport and aviation sector, as they enter the compliance market. May 2022: Assess with communities new nurseries, and build skills. Dec 2022: 20% of revenue from certificates sold on compliance market Plant 5 million seeds in 25 nurseries. Jan 2023: Publication of HAF Certificate to standardize design in the MENA region. Dec 2023: 30% of revenue from certificates sold on the compliance market $500,000 in revenue from CVU’s Plant 10 million seeds in 40 nurseries

    Enabling factors and constraints

    The outstanding potential of Morocco’s agricultural economy - with strategic local community investments in implementing farm-to-fork initiatives - is that it can become the financial engine to create projects in education, health, new businesses, and capacity-building in management and technical areas, to implement the change that local communities and their associations determine. The successful unfolding of HAF’s innovation to help meet the national powerful demand of farmers to transition toward diversification with fruit tree planting and credited monitoring is a bold approach for generating reinvestment and compounding impacts.

    Sustainability and replicability

    This approach bears major consequences for the nation and MENA by exemplifying a decentralized food security and natural resource management path. Morocco is dedicated to south-south unity and strengthening regional blocks. Since the diversity range within Morocco is commensurate with the biozone classifications in the MENA, then scalability and replication become manageable. This project will implement nurseries in the provinces of Ouezzane and Taza on land from the Department of Water and Forests, and in Guercif on land provided by a women’s cooperative. The 12 existing nurseries combined with these accounts for Morocco’s biozones. Reinvestment of net finances generated from tree and credit sales allow for expansion of HAF’s tree production and innovation, fulfilling the scope and potential of our existing national partnerships. The HAF implemented USAID Farmer-to-Farmer Program enables building abilities of farmers creating the change they seek, including value-added activities.

    Other sources of information

    1. Cool News in a Warming World: Why Invest in Future Forests, HAF Intern, Scientific Assistant - www.highatlasfoundation.org/cool-news-in-a-warming-world-why-invest-in-… 2. Planting trees can reduce poverty and slow climate change, By Jacqueline Skalski-Fouts, HAF Intern - www.highatlasfoundation.org/planting-trees-can-reduce-poverty-and-slow-… 3. Exploring Carbon Credit Potentials to Support Community Development, By Nisreen Abo-Sido, HAF Intern, Thomas Watson Fellow - www.highatlasfoundation.org/exploring-carbon-credit-potentials-to-suppo…

    COVID-19 Impact

    The economic recovery plan that has been instituted by Morocco as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic places agricultural development as a central feature with the goal to make productive one million hectares of the country. This plan was unveiled by King Mohammed VI of Morocco at the opening of the Parliament on October 9, 2020. This far-reaching and important agricultural goal has encouraged related ministries and governors to expedite authorizations that lead to the cultivation of unproductive areas. HAF’s contracted land for nurseries would enable 7-times the amount of seeds we currently plant, which financing would enable us to complete. HAF’s agriculture activities have shown throughout 2020 to be conducted safely in keeping with globally established safety guidelines.

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    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    14 March 2021 (start date)
    30 April 2024 (date of completion)
    High Atlas Foundation
    Other beneficiaries

    The end-users of HAF’s innovation are farmers in Morocco, who account for 14 million people. They experience close to five times the national poverty rate and the average farm size is less than three hectares. There are threatening levels of losses of local fruit tree varieties. Value is lost by farmers due to seed dependency, irrigation inefficiency, ineffectual or nonexistent cooperatives, and selling raw product through traditional channels.

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