Fire experts from the Ocala National Forest and instructors from the Prescribed Fire Training Center in Tallahassee, Fla., recently hosted a delegation of natural resource specialists from the Moroccan Government.
The three-day long program in Florida focused on fire management techniques and observing actual prescribed burns.
“We’ve been cooperating with a Moroccan government agency called the High Commission, an agency akin to the Forest Service as they manage forests and watersheds across their country,” said Natasha Marwah, Middle East and North African Program Specialist with the U.S. Forest Service. “For the past five years, we’ve been providing technical assistance on forest conservation and health, rangeland and watershed management, and most recently, fire management.”
Funded by the State Department, the program stemmed from an initial fire assessment visit to Morocco which the Forest Service conducted in December 2011.
“The U.S. and Moroccan Governments signed a free trade agreement in 2006, which resulted in funding for environmental cooperation,” said Marwah. “We decided to focus part of that cooperation on wildfire management and bring our Moroccan counterparts to the U.S. to examine our fire management systems.”
Escorted by Forest Service personnel and an interpreter, the Moroccans were able to ask questions of Ocala firefighters and Center instructors. The delegation also travelled to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, for another week to observe fire training techniques used in the west.