As Morocco hosts the COP22 climate change conference, fresh concerns have been raised about excessive wood consumption in the country’s thousands of hammams, with each using an average of one tonne of wood per day to heat the rooms and water.
“Have you been in a traditional hammam? If the answer is no, people will say, ‘It’s such a pity’,” said Youssef Laabid, president of the Association of Traditional Hammam Owners in Marrakech.
In addition to being a tourist draw, hammams remain highly popular among Moroccans as a place of cleansing, relaxation and socialising, in a tradition that dates back to Roman times.
Firewood consumption, however, has had a significant impact on Morocco’s forests. The second-largest source of energy in Morocco after oil, firewood accounts for around a third of national energy consumption, while firewood collection is a major source deforestation and degradation of Morocco’s forests.