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Transformation and resilience processes in mountain oases at the High Atlas (Morocco) – the case of Aït Mrau, Mgoun Valley

Jorge Asencio Juncal (Departamento de Arte y Arquitectura, Universidad de Málaga, Málaga, Spain)
José Manuel López-Osorio (Departamento de Arte y Arquitectura, Universidad de Málaga, Málaga, Spain)
Carlos Rosa-Jiménez (Departamento de Arte y Arquitectura, Universidad de Málaga, Málaga, Spain)

Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development

ISSN: 2044-1266

Article publication date: 9 November 2021

Issue publication date: 26 April 2022




This study aims to present the uniqueness of the mountain oasis at the High Atlas (Morocco) and is part of a more extensive study about the landscape, the architecture and the tourist development in the Mgoun Valley. Several natural and anthropogenic factors, such as new environmental conditions and socio-cultural realities, are testing the balance of the system and its adaptive capacity. A sustainable use of water, a key element of the oasis and source of life in the region, and an optimal management of farmland will allow this culture to be perpetuated. The study of the values of this territory and its transformation vectors constitute a first step for valuing this ecosystem and being able to establish management and conservation policies.


The research is based on the fieldwork carried out over six campaigns, between September 2011 and January 2020, when interviews to the local population and graphic and photographic records of the Aït Mrau oasis were carried out. The work started from the literature review and the study of the origin of the settlement, analyzing the transformation processes, both in the cultivated plots and in the built habitat, where the urban evolution of the settlements and the characteristics of the architecture have been analyzed.


The study has revealed the existence of social, environmental and economic imbalances that affect the status of the oasis, the landscape and the architecture of the study area. The research has characterized the habitat and has identified those elements that must be preserved to guarantee the permanence of the heritage values in a way that the future development of the region was not conditioned.


The research delves into the study of a case that is paradigmatic in the context of the Moroccan High Atlas, since it shows the dynamics of transformation of a region directly affected by the climate change and by the abandonment of the traditional habitats.



This work began as part of the project “Landscape and Heritage in Southern Morocco: Proposal for the development of models of responsible tourism” (AP/050921/11), Inter-university Cooperation Program of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).

The research is also related to the R&D&i project “RISK-Terra. Earth architecture in the Iberian Peninsula: study of natural, social and anthropic hazards, and management and resilience-building strategies” (RTI2018-095302-B-I00), funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities.

The authors would like to thank the students and professors who participated in the University Volunteer Program in International Cooperation of the University of Málaga and all the inhabitants of the Aït Mrau community who were interviewed during this research. The authors also thank Faissal Cherradi, architect of the Ministry of Culture of the Government of Morocco, and Roger Mimó, Catalan writer and tourist agent who lives in Morocco.


Asencio Juncal, J., López-Osorio, J.M. and Rosa-Jiménez, C. (2022), "Transformation and resilience processes in mountain oases at the High Atlas (Morocco) – the case of Aït Mrau, Mgoun Valley", Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 126-149.



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