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Inventory and enhancement of geological heritage in the Ouzoud syncline (M'Goun UNESCO Geopark, Central High Altas, Morocco): first step for promoting geotourism and sustainable development
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1  Sultane Moulay Slimane university Beni Mellal
Academic Editor: Karoly Nemeth

Published: 19 December 2022 by MDPI in The 4th International Electronic Conference on Geosciences session Geoheritage

The Ouzoud syncline, in central Morocco, is one of the wealthiest areas of natural and cultural heritage in the kingdom. The diversity of its landscapes and geological sites is interesting to explain the evolution of geological history of the central High Atlas (CHA) of Morocco and paleoclimate changes. This syncline also has great potential for geotourism development, it contains the Ouzoud waterfalls, one of the most coveted tourist attractions, which are part of the geosites listed in the Unesco M'Goun Geopark. The abundance of resurgences, waterfalls, travertine, caves, magmatic rocks, exceptional geomorphological forms and fascinating panoramic views make this territory a suitable tourist destination for excursions, hiking and climbing, and a good support for understanding the post-Hercynian sedimentary evolution of CHA. The dense and diversified vegetation cover offers a habitat for various animals (magot monkeys, bats, birds...) which attracts more nature-loving tourists. This exceptional biodiversity and the cultural wealth (traditional mills and the Zaouïa of Tanaghmelt) contribute to accentuate the importance of this syncline. Despite all these opportunities, this heritage remains unknown to the general public and not well exploited by managers, although it constitutes a lever for local socioeconomic development. To overcome this gap, an inventory and assessment of sites of interest was carried out in order to provide a database that would support decision makers in any geoheritage promotion projects. Thus, about twenty highly attractive geosites were inventoried, eight of which (the most important ones) were selected for evaluation using the Reynard (2016) methodology. This approach takes into account the scientific value, the additional values and the use and management values of sites. Also, a geoitinarery has been proposed to promote this heritage wealth. Such promotion can popularise the geosciences and create income-generating activities, which will improve the economic situation of the local population.

Keywords: geoheritage; Ouzoud syncline; geotourism; inventory; assessment; geopark