Algeria names another five Ramsar sites

12/12/2009

The Direction Générale des Forêts, Ministère de l'Agriculture et du Développement Rural of Algeria have designated an additional five Wetlands of International Importance, bringing that Party’s total number of Ramsar sites to 47. Garaet Timerganine (1,460 hectares, 35°40’N 006°58’E) is a seasonal freshwater marsh in the Wilaya de Oum El Bouaghi in the northeast. Marais de Bourdim (11 ha; 36°48’N 008°15’E) is a swamp and forested area found within the National Park of El Kala in El Tarf also in the northeast. Site classé Sebkhet Ezzmoul (6,765 ha; 35°53’N 006°30’E) is described as a seasonal saline lake located in the high plateau in the east of Algeria. Site Ramsar du lac Boulhilet (856 ha; 35°45’N 006°48’E) is an agriculturally important freshwater pond that was over-exploited in the 1970s to 1990s but has since been restored and again supports both cereal crops and wintering waterbirds. Vallée de l’oued Soummam (12,453 ha; 36°42’N 005°00’E) includes both mountain marshes and a coastal lagoon in the northeast. Ramsar’s Cynthia Kibata has prepared descriptions of all five sites. The five new designations and some more still in the pipeline have been prepared with support from WWF International Freshwater Programme.

Garaet Timerganine.18/12/09; Oum El Bouaghi; 1,460 ha; 35°40’N 006°58’E. Characterised by a seasonal freshwater marsh, the site is surrounded by a salt crust, in turn surrounded by halophytic vegetation and cereal cultivation. It is noted as an important nesting area for the endangered Oxyura leucocephala, the vulnerable Marmaronettaangustirostris and Aythya nyroca. Other species dependent on the site are the Wild boar (Sus scorfa), the Golden Jackal (Canis aureus) and the Sahara Frog (Rana saharica), amongst others. The local communities rely on the site for water retention, flood control and sediment retention in order to carry on their income-generating activities. This area however is facing several threats including poaching, extraction of water, and overgrazing of the land which leads to a decrease in the biomass cover. There are no site specific management measures, but the local authority has measures in place to conserve the forests of Wilaya de Oum El Bouaghi. Ramsar site no. 1894. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

Marais de Bourdim. 18/12/09; El Tarf; 11 ha; 36°48’N 008°15’E. National Park. A freshwater swamp and forested area found within the National Park of El Kala in the northeast of Algeria that is rare in this Mediterranean region. It is recognised as the largest heron colony in the region and fulfills two important roles, i.e., as a breeding site and as a resting point outside the breeding period. Even with insufficient studies, it is apparent that the site is also significant for the Golden Jackal (Canis aureus), the Ichneumon mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon), Common toad (Bufo bufo) and the Otter (Lutra lutra), which is noted to be rare in the region, amongst many others. The main uses of the site are as an irrigation source for the surrounding agricultural lands and it is therefore of great value to the local communities. As the site is within the National Park, it is covered by legislation and management plans already in place. However, logging activities, the over-extraction of water for irrigation, and the invasion of the Eucalyptus threaten the ecological character of the site. Ramsar site no. 1895. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

Site classé Sebkhet Ezzmoul.18/12/09; Oum El Bouaghi; 6,765 ha; 35°53’N 006°30’E. A seasonal saline lake located in the high plateau in the east of Algeria. It is recognised as an important site for waterbirds for the role it plays as a wintering and resting point during migration for several species including the Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus), the Common Shellduck (Tadorna tadorna) and the White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) amongst others. Due to the presence of numerous waterbirds, the site is an attraction for predators such as the Golden Jackal and the Red Fox. Rodents such as the Algerian Mouse (Mus spretus) and Barbary Striped Grass Mouse (Lemniscomys barbarous) are attracted by the cereal cultivation in the lands surrounding the site. The principal threats facing the site are erosion, over-grazing, poaching and collection of the waterbirds eggs. While there is no management plan, other conservation measures are in place that regulate the exploitation of the forests of Wilaya de Oum El Bouaghi. Ramsar site no. 1896. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

Site Ramsar du lac Boulhilet. 18/12/09; Oum El Bouaghi; 856 ha; 35°45’N 006°48’E. Originally a freshwater pond that was essential for maintaining over 15,000 hectares of agricultural land, between the 1970s and 1990s the site was overexploited leading to a significant decrease in its ability to sustain this industry. Lac Boulhilet is now restored and is once again an important site supporting a variety of activities including the cultivation of cereals. It is also once again recognised as being important in supporting wintering waterbirds and as a resting point in the arid region along their migration route. Species of note are the vulnerable Whiteheaded duck (Oxyura leucocephala) and Marbled duck (Marmaronetta angustirostris) amongst many others. Other fauna found within the site include the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), Cape Hare (Lepus capensis) and the Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra). The principal threats affecting the site are poaching, disturbance of vegetation, and the potential over extraction of water. Ramsar site no. 1897. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

Vallée de l’oued Soummam.18/12/09; Kabylie; 12,453 ha; 36°42’N 005°00’E. Situated in the northeast of the country, the site is the furthest point downstream in the Soummam catchment. It is characterized by permanent rivers, temporary marshes in the mountain regions, and a coastal lagoon. It is of particular importance for recharging the groundwater and regulation of flow, and the upstream sections control the risk of flooding further downstream. The site also supports the vulnerable European Otter (Lutra lutra), which has over the years disappeared completely from the northwest and is in decline in the central and eastern regions. Other fauna supported are 119 species of birds, 38 species of mammal, amphibians such as the Sahara Frog (Rana saharica) and reptiles such as the viper (Natrix Maura). The main land uses are for agriculture, olive plantations, and small village settlements. The threats facing this site are the result of unsustainably using the resources of the site to support the income-generating activities previously mentioned. While there exists no specific protection measures, it is hoped that the designation as a Ramsar site will act as a catalyst. Ramsar site no. 1898. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

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