Paper No. 152-5
Presentation Time: 2:35 PM
THE TAFRAOUTE REGION IN THE WESTERN ANTI-ATLAS (MOROCCO) AS A GEOPARK CONCEPT FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND GEOTOURISM
The Anti-Atlas records four major paleotectonic events associated with Paleoproterozoic-Paleozoic supercontinents, global paleoclimate and major sea level changes. This rich geological history is spectacularly exposed in Western Anti-Atlas inliers, particularly in the Tafraoute region. The cores of these inliers are made of Paleoproterozoic basement covered by Mesoproterozoic (Lkest Group), Ediacaran (Ouarzazate Group), and Lower Cambrian sediments (Adoudounian Fm). Countless geological well-exposed outcrops and landscapes of this area constitute world-class geotourism sites and natural laboratories to study two billion years of Earth’s history. We propose here unique geosites, cultural, and natural sites, in the Tafraoute region, for consideration as a Geopark concept. Geosites include the Tafraoute Precambrian pink granite complex shaped by exfoliation into dramatic rectangular blocks. This exceptional landscape of pillars, domes, and mushroom rocks captivate the attention of scientists as well as the general public. The Gorges of Ait Mansoor and Tizerkine draw tourists worldwide for traditional Berber villages and mountain oases within deeply carved Cambrian limestones. Historical vestiges at Ighir Ourize represents the oldest collective granary in Morocco and North Africa, built as a rare remote fortress perched in limestone cliffs. Archeological rock arts and engravings at Tiremtmiat, Tazekka, and Oukas document pre-Islamic culture of the proto-Berber. Mining heritage sites parsed the landscape with metallurgical scoria historically exploited for copper, iron and manganese. The Natural Reserve (Biological and Ecological Interest Sites) of the Jbel Lkest mountain provides high altitude (>2000m) refuge for endemic and rare species of flora (Argania, Dracaena draco, Euphorbia) and fauna (mouflon, porcupine, and Berberian squirrel). This mountain is an international destination for nature followers, hikers, and rock climbers. New strategies under Geopark designation, based on national and international cooperation, will contribute to strengthen the preservation and public understanding of these pristine natural and cultural heritages, benefiting local sustainable development through geotourism and ecotourism.