Two years ago, when I visited Essaouira for the first time I noticed that much of the seafront was newly developed and had been very recently planted. It was an excellent opportunity to study the methods used in Morocco to fortify plants, and indeed the soil, against the tumultuously strong winds and the severe lack of rainfall. The photos below were taken in March 2014 and show the use of pipes for automatic irrigation, plastic membrane to protect against soil erosion and drought, and stones to weight down the membrane.
Returning to Essaouira this week it was interesting to see how the planting in this area had developed. Taken yesterday, the photos below show how robust, wind-tolerant, ground cover plants such as Santolina, Aloe and Tulbaghlia have filled out the space, almost entirely obscuring the white membrane covering the soil.
Elsewhere along the seafront it was interesting to see what other methods the town have used to protect against the severe climatic conditions. The photos below show how white paint is used on the trunks of trees such as the iconic Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heteriphylla) to reduce transpiration (water evaporation) through lenticels (pores) on the tree trunk, how stakes are used to support trees against the wind, and how shelters built of Eucalyptus poles and semi-permeable fabric are used as windbreaks for standard trees.
It was also interesting to see how the growth of plants is effected by the strong Essaouira winds. As you can see from the photo below many of the Norfolk Island Pines have become unmistakably lop-sided under the influence of the wind. This large wind farm, seen in the distance, has been set up to harness the wind’s potential.