Morocco designates twenty new Ramsar sites

The Kingdom of Morocco has designated 20 new Ramsar sites throughout the country and updated the information o­n its four existing sites. The total area of its Ramsar sites now amounts to 272,010 hectares and covers a variety of wetland types, including some of which are identified as being under-represented in the List of Wetlands of International Importance, and which Parties should give high priority to designating: these include mountain wetlands and seagrass beds. The Aguelmams Sidi Ali -Tifounassine and Lacs Isly-Tislite sites, for instance, comprise a complex of mountain lakes among which are two of the highest lakes in North Africa, which are situated at more than 2,000m in the Haut Atlas mountain range and are among the southernmost representatives of the lacustrine mountain ecosystems of the temperate paleo-arctic bioregion.

Many sites, such as the Complexe du bas Loukkos, the Embouchure de l’oued Dr’a, Embouchure de la Moulouya, Embouchures des oueds Chbeyka-Al Wa’er and Zones humides de l’oued El Maleh comprise river estuaries and salt marshes which play a very important role as refuge, resting and wintering sites for migratory birds, many of which are endangered (Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris, Ferruginous duck Aythya nyroca, Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea and Audouin’s Gull Larus audouinii). o­n the other hand, some coastal sites exhibit great natural beauty, with their inclusion of marine lagoons, sea cliffs, sandy beaches and rocky shores, harbouring high invertebrate, mollusk, planktonic and mammalian biodiversity, and hosting charismatic species such as the monk seal, loggerhead turtle and different dolphin species. Among these sites, o­ne should mention the Cap des Trois Fourches, Archipel et dunes d’Essawira, Baie d’Ad-Dakhla, Marais et côte du Plateau de Rmel and the Sebkha Bou Areg.

A number of sites also include artificial wetland types, such as dam reservoirs, oases associated with irrigated palm plantations, and salt works, which play an important socio-economic role and still host some significant species such as endemic fish and plants, or waterbirds, such as waders. These include the Barrage Al Massira, Barrage Mohammed V, Complexe de Sidi Moussa-Walidia, Moyenne Dr’a, Oasis du Tafilalet and Sebkha Zima. Some sites are relatively pristine, such as the Zones Humides de Souss-Massa, which are part of a national park, while others including the Complexe du bas Tahaddart have suffered from high rates of development and are therefore in more need of stringent conservation measures.

Source: website of the Ramsar Convention o­n wetlands

You can read the full text of the announcement as well as individual descriptions of the new sites issued by the Ramsar Convention Secretariat , by following this link

Tour through a map showing all Ramsar wetland sites of Morocco previous to the new addittions, available through the Ramsar Information Service. Browse through the o­n-line database of the Information Service, hosted by Wetlands International for maps and updated descriptions of Ramsar sites around the world

Find out about the project undertaken by MedWet currently in Morocco, titled ‘Protection and sustainable development of North African Wetlands’, carried out with financial support the European Commission, LIFE Third Countries instrument

Photo: View of the Ramsar wetland of Merja Zerga, Morocco
Source: Mr Nejib Benessaiah, MedWet Policy Advisor

Updated on 9/6/2005 12:21:43 PM.