Morocco invests in artificial intelligence, drones and Canadians to fight forest fires

Prevention, surveillance and rapid intervention are key assets in the fight against forest fires. Morocco’s National Water and Forest Agency (ANEF) has set out an action program for fire protection and combat to protect 9 million hectares of forest in its territory, which it presented on May 24. It has allocated 150 million dirhams (MDH) budget for this program where artificial intelligence and new technology play a major role.

On February 13, 2020, the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, launched the “Morocco Forest 2020-2030″ National Strategy for the Development of the Forest Domain, the ambition of which is ” To address the problem of degradation and to strike a balance between conservation and development of forests and their resources. The first meeting of the board of the ANEF was held on April 7, as part of the roadmap for this strategy.

The number of wildfires worldwide is expected to increase in the coming years

This strategy has begun to bear fruit and in 2021 it was possible to limit the damage caused by fires in Morocco. However, a total of 3,024 hectares of forest were damaged by 435 fires due to severe drought, heat wave and wind.

From January to May this year, there were 75 fires recorded, with an average of about fifteen in the last ten years. More frequent spring rains favor highly biomass production.

Fuad Asali, director of the National Center for Forest Climate Risk Management, told Media24 that scientists estimate that the frequency of fires will increase by 30% in the future as 45 million hectares of forests will be burned globally by 2021. He also unveiled it. Arrangement of action plan during this interview, which will be based on the achievements of recent years.

ANEF Action Plan

With a budget of at least 150 MDH, ANEF’s action program is based on a number of pillars, including risk analysis, prevention, monitoring and intervention, thanks to technological and modern technology.

18,000 hectares of afforestation

To prevent fire, ANEF plans:

  • A public awareness campaign on fire risk.
  • Intensity of preventive afforestation (maintenance, reforestation) up to 18,000 ha in high and medium risk areas (15 MDH).
  • Development and maintenance of 48 water points (2 MDH) as well as opening and maintenance of 500 firebreak trenches (5.4 MDH).
  • Rehabilitation and opening of 325 km track (45 MDH).

The action program also provides for the construction and maintenance of 23 surveillance posts with a budget of 2 million dirhams and 23.8 million dirhams to pay the surveillance people, it is very important to detect forest fires as soon as it starts.

A super computer for risk analysis

It is impossible to predict fire outbreaks, but it is now possible for prediction tools to assess hazards and estimate fire risk.

With the help of static and dynamic forest fire maps, one can analyze forest fire risk and provide data allowing managers to determine their priorities: to invest in infrastructure, equipment or operations to protect against forest fires.

This prediction system is backed up by a supercomputer whose data is then analyzed by multidisciplinary experts.

To monitor the progress of fire in difficult places where drones reach

The use of the DJI 300 RTK drone, which combines 55 minutes of flight autonomy, advanced artificial intelligence capability, detection and location in 6 directions, will make it possible to gather information on the evolution of fire. For this year, they will fly in isolated mode but in simultaneous mode from next year.

Expand the Canadian fleet

At the end of October 2021, Morocco announced the purchase of three new Canadian CL-415s. Built in Canada by Bombardier Aerospace, the water bombers will carry eight aircraft to Canada’s Moroccan fleet, the first of which will be delivered next summer. Thus, although six Canadians have been introduced, water shortages have caused problems. The planes have to be refueled at sea and if this does not compromise with fire extinguishers, they must be washed to avoid erosion. If the weather conditions are bad, they will still be able to supply fuel to airports with adequate infrastructure. The ANEF Action Program provides for the acquisition of 15 firefighting vehicles with a capacity of 22 MDH, as well as the maintenance and repair of 87 first-aid vehicles for 1.9M DH.

Leave a Comment