A History of Human Impact on Moroccan Mountain Landscapes

Rachid Cheddadi, Majda Nourelbait, Ouafaa Bouaissa, Jalal Tabel, Ali Rhoujjati, José Antonio López-Sáez, Francisca Alba-Sánchez, Carla Khater, Aziz Ballouche, Laurent Dezileau, Henry Lamb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (SciVal)


The present study aims to review palaeoecological evidence for environmental changes induced by human activities over the last few millennia in the montane landscapes of Morocco. The study is based on well-dated pollen and geochemical records from the Rif and the Middle Atlas mountains, to show spatial and temporal variation in the onset and intensity of exploitation of forest, soil and mineral resources.Before ca. 2000 BP, anthropogenic impact was minimal. At about that time, abrupt changes of the arboreal pollen proportions, with a decline in all tree taxa, indicate a reduction of the forest cover interpreted as being anthropogenic. In the Rif Mountains, increased influx of carbonates (Ca) in the sedimentary records indicates enhanced soil erosion coincident with the reduction in tree cover. In the Middle Atlas, reduced forest cover is linked to geochemical evidence for mining and metallurgy of lead (Pb), copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn). These industrial activities correspond to the expansion of the Roman Empire into Morocco at around AD 40 and show a decline when the Romans were displaced by the Vandals about five centuries later.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-248
Number of pages16
JournalAfrican Archaeological Review
Issue number2
Early online date09 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2015


  • Morocco
  • Roman Empire
  • Middle Atlas
  • Rif
  • Human activities
  • Cedar forests


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