The Annotated Ramsar List: Algeria

06/05/2011

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The Annotated Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance

ALGERIA / ALGERIE / ARGELIA

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The Convention on Wetlands came into force for Algeria on 4 March 1984. Algeria presently has 50 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area of 2,991,013 hectares.

site; date of designation; region, province, state; surface area; coordinates
site; date de désignation; région, province, état; superficie; coordonnées
sitios; fecha de designación; región, provincia, estado; área; coordenadas

Aulnaie de Aïn Khiar.04/06/03; El Tarf; 180 hectares; 36°40'N 008°20'E. National Park. A wetland type characteristic of the El Kala National park but extremely rare elsewhere in Algeria. L'Aulnaie (alder grove) de Aïn Khiar shelters several species, represented by ash Fraxinus sp., alder Alnus glutinosa, and poplar Populus sp., whose principal characteristic is high water demand. Located between the littoral sand bar and the agricultural plain of El Tarf, the site receives water during winter from the floodplains of the Oued El Kebir which flows through the region and transforms it into marshy zone. This forest environment includes the country's largest number of raptors and large avifaunistic species as well as Ardeidae (herons, bitterns). Loss of trees and shrubs to illegal cutting and natural causes, as well as pressures from agricultural expansion, are seen as the chief potential threats. Ramsar site no. 1293. Most recent RIS information: 2003.

Chott Aïn El Beïda.12/12/04; Ouargla; 6,853 ha; 31°58'N 005°22'E. A saline depression surrounded by palm plantations, crossed by a number of canals that drain excess water from the plantations and the nearby town. Several bird species on the Eurasian-African pathway use the site as a stopover; some winter there, such as the Ruddy Shelduck, and others nest there, including the Black-winged Stilt and the Pied Avocet. A number of mammals also occur at the site, but these still remain largely unknown. The vegetation is Saharo-Mediterranean belonging to 12 families, the most represented of which is the Chenopodiaceae. Of note is Zygophyllum cornutum for its medical properties against gastric ailments and which should benefit from special protection measures due to over-harvesting. Pollution from wastewater is the main threat to the avifauna of the site. A project is currently underway to elaborate a management plan for the site, which also hopes to increase awareness through the construction of an eco-museum, a visitors' centre, bird watchtowers and educational campaigns. Ramsar site no. 1414. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

Chott de Zehrez Chergui.04/06/03; Djelfa; 50,985 ha; 35°15'N 003°30'E. A vast endorheic depression, part of an extensive system of large chotts in the high steppes between the Atlas Tellien and Atlas Saharien mountains, populated by numerous permanent and seasonal lakes and pools and shrub-dominated wetland. The site is uncommon for the Mediterranean area in view of the extent of its surface area and catchment and particularly for its presence in an arid zone. It is also representative of the Mediterranean area in the presence of several types of soils and steppe vegetation. It is extensively used for pasturage and plays an important role in groundwater recharge and flood control. A number of rare and endemic plant species are found, including the herb Herniaria mauritanica and the glasswort Salicornia arabica. The Marbled Teal, listed as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List, is recorded in small groups, but insufficient research has been done on other species. Ramsar site no. 1294. Most recent RIS information: 2003.

Chott de Zehrez Gharbi. 04/06/03; Djelfa; 52,200 ha; 34°58'N 002°44'E. Like the nearby Chott de Zehrez Chergui, an endorheic depression with numerous permanent and seasonal lakes and pools and shrub-dominated wetland between northern and southern ranges of the Atlas mountains. The "chott" (signifying in Arabic the vegetative border around a "sebkha", or saline lake) of Zehrez Gharbi supports vegetation characteristic of the high plains of the Maghreb steppe area. At least six sand- and salt-loving plant species, considered rare in the region, are found in the site, and Salicornia arabica is considered very rare. Apart from salt extraction, which has always been practiced in the sebkha both in traditional or modern ways, the pastures of Zehrez Gharbi are particulary known for the production of beef and veal of excellent quality, as well as for the sheep of the Maghreb called "Ouled Djelal". Ramsar site no. 1295. Most recent RIS information: 2003.

Chott Ech Chergui.02/02/01; Saïda; 855,500 ha; 34º27’N 000º50’E. The second largest chott in North Africa, after the Chott Djerid in Tunisia: an extensive closed depression containing permanent and seasonal saline, brackish, and freshwater lakes and pools, as well as hot springs. The site is representative of the Mediterranean region in the diversity of habitats which are included, from steppe areas that are always green to the surroundings of the chott and the "sebkhas" which are completely without vegetation, as well as purely aquatic lake and marsh vegetation. Many threatened and vulnerable plant species are present, as well as at least two vulnerable species of Anatidae, and it is an important nesting and wintering site for several species of migratory waterbirds. Human uses include agriculture, and raising of livestock, particularly sheep and camels; the thermal springs offer possibilities for tourism. Overgrazing, poaching, desertification, and deforestation for firewood are seen as potential threats. Ramsar site no. 1052. Most recent RIS information: 2001.

Chott El Beïdha - Hammam Essoukhna. 12/12/04; Sétif, Batna; 12,223 ha; 35°55'N 005°45'E. A brackish, temporary lake surrounded by a meadow composed of halophytic species; during the dry season salt encrustations occupy a large part of the site. It is important for the wintering of two species, Tadorna tadorna and Phoenicopterus ruber, which have been represented in relatively high proportions in recent years, though rarely exceeding the 1% threshold due to the fact that several other wetlands occur nearby. The lake plays a role in sediment retention and flood control during years of exceptional rains, and is an important grazing area for sheep that can feed on the Atriplex spp. It also holds an archaeological interest thanks to the presence of shell-middens, mounds up to 150m-long and 10m-high which contain tools, bones, ash and snail shells which date back to the Capsian civilization, ca.7,000 BC. In the site's surroundings there are cereal and other cultivations, and some forestry activities further south. The problems of erosion and desertification recently became evident, and the elaboration of a management plan is seen as the only solution towards achieving the wise use of the site. Ramsar site no. 1415. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

Chott El Hodna.02/02/01; M’Sila, Batna; 362,000 ha; 35º18’N 004º40’E. Part of a series of chotts created by waters descending from the Atlas Tellien to the north and the Saharan Atlas to the south, typical landscape of vegetated Maghreb steppe with seasonal brackish and saline lakes, pools, and marshes and freshwater springs. The peripheral zone of chott, characterized by wadis and oases, surrounds the central zone of the sebkha, with a complete absence of vegetation. The site is important for a number of endangered species, notably gazelles, bustards, and marbled teal, and also qualifies for the List for its significance as habitat for indigenous fish species. Human uses include pastoralism and salt extraction, and the area is home to Roman ruins and other archaeological remains. Potential threats include pollution from urban and industrial waste water; over-exploitation of water, salt, sand, and soil; over-grazing and deforestation for firewood. Ramsar site no. 1053. Most recent RIS information: 2001.

Chott Melghir.04/06/03; El Oued, Biskra, Khenchela; 551,500 ha; 34°15'N 006°19'E. A large complex of seasonal salt lakes and pools and freshwater pools, representative of arid and hyper-arid saharan environments. Of the characteristic type of vegetated chott surrounding sebkha, or salt lake, entirely devoid of vegetation, the site is remarkable for lying at the lowest point in the Sahara desert, 35 meters below sea level. It shelters vulnerable and threatened flora species, and the number of endemic species reaches 14, the most notable of which are Fagonia microphylla and Oudneya africana, found only in Algeria, and the particularly interesting Ammosperma cinerea. The area is currently used for grazing. Ramsar site no. 1296. Most recent RIS information: 2003.

Chott Merrouane et Oued Khrouf.02/02/01; El Oued; 337,700 ha; 33º55’N 006º10’E. The chott is characterized by saline ponds and lakes that are permanent by virtue of the flow of the Wadi Khrouf, containing continuous runoff of excess irrigation for cultivation of palms and waste water from neighboring communes. Located in a region of arid steppe, the site is internationally important for passing migratory birds, some of which are classed by IUCN as vulnerable, as well as for several indigenous fish species. Other wetland types listed as present include freshwater springs/oases, irrigation channels, salt exploitation sites, and drainage canals. Human uses include livestock raising (principally sheep), salt extraction, and recreational hunting and fishing. Water pollution and over-grazing are seen as potential threats to the ecological character of the site. Ramsar site no. 1054. Most recent RIS information: 2001.

Chott Oum El Raneb. 12/12/04; Ouargla; 7,155 ha, 32°02'N 005°22'E. A wetland fed by wastewater from five settlements in the district, surrounded by sand dunes, an important refuge for migratory waterbirds crossing the desert on the Eurasian-African routes. Phoenicopterus ruber is the symbol of this site, being present in significant numbers and nesting there. Himantopus himantopus also nests here, while other species present include Anas and Tadorna spp. and Plegadis falcinellus, Ardea cinerea and Egretta garzetta. The site was used for salt-works in the past, but today one only finds palm plantations in the area. Pollution from wastewater is a concern for the future, and a study is currently being undertaken to look into the possibility of installing a purification plant. The site is also used for environmental education purposes, with the use of videos and brochures. Ramsar site no. 1416. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

Chott Sidi Slimane.12/12/04; Ouargla; 616 ha; 33°17'N 003°45'E. A wetland surrounded by palm trees and a dense reed bed that is an important refuge for migratory and sedentary waterbirds. The site hosts more than 1% of the vulnerable Marbled Teal's biogeographic population. The Phragmites beds provide a nesting site for species like Fulica atra, Gallinula chloropus and Porphyrio porphyrio. The water body is important for the local population as it allows excess water from the palm cultivations to be drained there. The date palms constitute local people's main livelihood. The tourism potential of the area still remains unexploited despite the site's natural beauty and its faunal and floral richness. Ramsar site no. 1417. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

Chott Tinsilt.12/12/04; Oum El Bouaghi; 2,154 ha; 35°53'N 006°29'E. A shallow brackish lake fed by rainwater, runoff and wastewater from the town Souk Naâmane, surrounded by Tamarix and Salicornia species. The area is an important wintering site for waterbirds, especially Tadorna tadorna, Anas penelope and the flamingo, which are present in significant numbers. There is potential for salt harvesting in the area and livestock pass through it. Cereal and vegetable cultivation at subsistence and industrial level occur outside the site. Uncontrolled hunting, pollution from wastewater, erosion and water diversion for irrigation are the main threats. At the moment there are no protection measures in place, although there is a felt need given the presence of important avifauna visiting the site and the potential to carry out research on nesting birds, saline soils and associated vegetation. There are two universities nearby, one of which has a postgraduate course on wetland conservation, and it is thus likely that research in the area will increase. Ramsar site no. 1418. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

Complexe de zones humides de la plaine de Guerbes-Sanhadja.02/02/01; Skikda, El Tarf; 42,100 ha; 36º53’N 007º16’E. Planned Regional Nature Park. A large coastal plain between the hills of Skikda and the forested massif of Chetaïbi near Cap de Fer, including the delta of the Wadi El Kébir. Amongst the characteristic dunes can be found a multitude of depressions and valleys forming lakes and "garâas" (marshes) from a few to several dozen hectares in area, on a plain that is described as a "bioclimatic crossroads" including sub-Saharan and European as well as Mediterranean characteristics. In addition to its significant biological diversity, the site is important for migratory birds (especially as a nesting place for Oxyura leucocephala and Aythya nyroca) and fish and eels. Human uses include agriculture (especially tomatoes and melons) and grazing; potential threats include unmanaged agricultural expansion and runoff and waste-water from upstream villages. Ramsar site no. 1056. Most recent RIS information: 2001.

Dayet El Ferd.12/12/04; Tlemcen; 3,323 ha; 34°28'N 001°15'W. A permanent endorrheic depression with brackish water, surrounded by pastures and cereal fields and situated between two mountain chains. It plays a very important role for wintering waterbirds, especially waders, having hosted an average of more than 20,000 birds between 2003 and 2005. The Ruddy Shelduck is the species which best characterizes the site as it spends the whole year there, while all of the Anatidae (ducks, geese, and swans) and grebes present in Algeria occur at this site. It was once the site where taxes paid by caravans were collected; today it hosts a weekly market, which makes it an ideal site for combining ecotourism and scientific and cultural research. There are plans to transform the site into a nature reserve to be linked to the National Park of Tlemcen. The only activity taking place in the surroundings is agriculture, with some water extraction from the lake. Ramsar site no. 1419. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

Garaet Annk Djemel et El Merhsel.12/12/04; Oum El Bouaghi; 18,140 ha; 35°47'N 006°51'E. A saltwater lake surrounded by a belt of Salicornia, Artemisia and Atriplex vegetation, fed by temporary rivers and precipitation/runoff. During summer the high evaporation rates lead to the creation of salt encrustations, which are appreciated habitats by some bird species. The site hosts the vulnerable Marbled Teal, as well as over 12% of the biogeographic population of Tadorna tadorna and over 2% of Phoenicopterus ruber's population. The site plays an important role in flood control and sediment capture. The local population harvests salt and, in the surrounding of the site, practices agriculture and raises livestock. No scientific, touristic or educational activity takes place, but there is potential for creation of environmental awareness by green clubs and school groups. Ramsar site no. 1420. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

Garaet El Taref.12/12/04; Oum El Bouaghi; 33,460 ha; 35°41'N 007°08'E. A large basin which is three-quarters dry and salt-encrusted, surrounded by halophytes such as Artemisia and Salicornia spp. An important wintering area for waterbirds, the site hosts nearly 10% of the Greater Flamingo's biogeographic population, approximately 4% of Grus grus' and 4.5% of the Common Shelduck's. Several Anas species, the Tufted Duck and the Common Coot also winter at the site. Agriculture and livestock raising are the main revenue-generating activities in the area. Overgrazing and land reclamation are, however, threatening the site in the absence of regulations on land-use. It is hoped that, given the site's importance for waterbirds and its designation as a Ramsar site, new conservation measures will be applied and it will proceed to be classified as a natural ornithological reserve. Ramsar site no. 1421. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

Garaet Guellif.12/12/04; Oum El Bouaghi; 24,000 ha; 35°47'N 006°59'E. An endorrheic brackish water depression with high evaporation levels, with shores that have salt encrustations and Salicornia species growing on them. The site hosts the vulnerable Marbled Teal, as well as several small mammal species and high plant diversity. It is an important wintering area for waterbirds, hosting more than 1% of the biogeographic populations of Phoenicopterus ruber and the Common Shelduck, as well as smaller proportions of the common crane and several Anas species. The lake plays an important role in flood control and adsorption of sediments. Cereal cultivation and raising of sheep and cows are the main economic activities taking place, while poaching and overgrazing are the main threats. The Oum El Bouaghi University has undertaken some research at the site, given its graduate programme on wetlands, while the area is also used for educational purposes by green clubs and for celebrations like World Wetlands Day. Ramsar site no. 1422. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

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.

Grotte karstique de Ghar Boumâaza. 04/06/03; Tlemcen; 20,000 ha; 034°42'N 001°18'E. A representative example of continental wetland including a karstic subterranean hydrological system, extremely rare and underrepresented in the Ramsar List. Discovered in 1931, the Ghar Boumâaza caverns, the largest known underground cave network in Algeria and Africa, follow the river Tafna under the Tlemcen mountains at about 1070m altitude - some 15.5 km have been visited so far. Fauna inside and outside the caverns have been little studied, but at least three rare kinds of bat have been noted; avifauna are represented by the woodcock Scolopax rusticola, the Barbary partridge Alectoris Barbara, the blue rock thrush Monticola solitarius, and the golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos. Protected mammals such as porcupine, the golden jackal Canis aureus, and the common genet Genetta genetta can be found in the area. The permanent presence of water has favored the establishment of hamlets, the people of which are able to irrigate fields and practice grazing despite the semi-arid climate. Ramsar site no. 1297. Most recent RIS information: 2003.

Gueltates Afilal. 04/06/03; Tamanrasset; 20,900 ha; 23°09'N 005°46'E. Ahaggar National Park. The gueltates, unique to this region, comprise small terraces, pots and small cascades in which water runs permanently in this completely desert environment. The site contains rich vegetation more or less similar to that of the Gueltates d'Issakarassene Ramsar site, and the diverse fauna includes fish species such as the desert barbel. The Gueltates Afilal constitute the most significant stream of the Ahaggar and the Atakor massif (3,000m), and, with Issakarassene, are among the best-known gueltates due to their welcoming location as a stop-over along the tourist track to Mt Assekrem. The nomadic Touaregs of Tamanrasset use the gueltates to store water for domestic needs and as a watering site for their herds, and the area is a popular place visited by some 20,000 local and foreign tourists per year, without so far having suffered too much pressure from their presence. Ramsar site no. 1298. Most recent RIS information: 2003.

Ile de Rachgoun. 05/06/2011. Wilaya de Ain Temouchent; 66 ha; 35°19’N 01°28’W. The island of Rachgoun is a Mediterranean volcanic island 4 km off the Algerian coast and with a semi-arid climate. It is unique in Algeria for supporting the Critically Endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal Monachus monachus. The seas surrounding the island are used by endangered whale species: Sperm Whale Physeter macrocephalus, Fin Whale Balaenoptera physalus and the most widely distributed of the beaked whales, Cuvier's Beaked Whale Ziphius cavirostris. Loggerhead Caretta caretta and Leatherback Dermochelys coriacea Turtles, respectively Endangered and Critically Endangered, also use the island. The island is an important source of food, spawning ground and nursery for fishes, crustaceans and molluscs, and isis used by a variety of breeding seabirds, including Audouin’s Gull Larus audouinii and Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris diomedea, and other migratory waterbirds. The fragile ecosystem of the island and its vulnerability to multiple human interventions has led to degradations that continue to alter the ecology of the site. The Island of Rachgoun is under the management of the ‘Institut des sciences de la mer et de l’aménagement du littoral (ISMAL)’. Designation of the area as a Wetland of International Importance has been supported by WWF. Ramsar Site no. 1961. Most recent RIS information: 2011.

La Réserve Naturelle du Lac des Oiseaux. 22/03/99; El Kala; 120 ha; 36º42'N 008º07'E. Natural Reserve. A shallow permanent freshwater lake in the northeast of the country that shrinks to about half its size in the dry season. The site supports a surprising diversity of vegetation (some 200 species), birds, and insects. Two globally threatened species, the white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala) and the ferruginous duck (Aythya nyroca) nest at the site, and the former has been counted at 164 individuals in January 1998, more than 2% of the world population. Approximately 8,000 people live nearby, and grazing of small numbers of livestock is practiced around the lake. Effects of population growth are seen as a potential threat. Ramsar site no. 975. Most recent RIS information: 2003.

La Vallée d’Iherir.02/02/01; Illizi; 6,500 ha; 25º24’N 008º25’E. Parc National du Tassili; UNESCO World Heritage site. A high valley (1100m-1400m) in the center of a limestone Saharan plateau characterized by intermittent streams, lakes, and marshes, freshwater springs, and subterranean karst hydrological systems. The isolated nature of the site has led to remarkable evolutionary phenomena, described as "at the same time, a laboratory and a museum of the process of evolution", particularly for species which have been best able to resist the desertification of the area, such as lizards, serpents, and four species of fish. Basic palm and fig culture is practiced near the site by the Tuareg community on terraces above the valley floor, and some raising of vegetables takes place in areas shaded by trees. The rocky mountain walls bear rich pictorial evidence of some of the first human inhabitants of the Sahara; this has encouraged fairly significant tourism, which, however, was drastically diminished between 1992 and 2000 and is only recently beginning to recover. Ramsar site no. 1057. Most recent RIS information: 2001.

Lac de Fetzara. 04/06/03; Annaba; 20,680 ha; 36°47'N 007°32'E. A lake of some 17km by 13km, very variable in the extent of open freshwater from 5,800ha to an additional 4,000ha of flooded land in the rainy winter season, surrounded by permanent and seasonal marshes and pools and by irrigated and seasonally inundated agricultural land. The site's great importance at the beginning of the 20th century as a nesting and wintering place has been reduced by drainage works during the colonial era, not entirely regained in recent years, but it is still a significant site for waterbirds, particularly for Anatides and coot Fulica atra, up to 42,000 in 1990. Towards the end of the winter season, a number of important waterfowl, mainly Greylag goose Anser anser and Wigeon Anas Penelope, come to the site from nearby Ramsar sites Oubeïra and Tonga when excessive water level increases make its difficult for them to reach feeding ground there. Agriculture and pasturage are practiced in the area, and the expansion of agricultural area is seen as a potential threat. Ramsar site no. 1299. Most recent RIS information: 2003.

Lac de Télamine. 12/12/04; Oran, 2,399 ha, 35°43'N 000°23'E. A brackish lake belonging to a group of wetlands in western Algeria that form an important complex for the wintering and passage of migratory birds, especially Anas and Tadorna species, which occur in significant numbers. The species present share the different habitats, such as sandy shores, open water, salt encrusted areas, and vegetation. Several raptors are also found in the area, as they feed on rodents, birds and insects among the surrounding cultivations. Agriculture and grazing are the main land uses outside the site, which is also used for environmental celebrations like World Wetlands Day and World Environment Day. Ramsar site no. 1423. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

Lac du barrage de Boughezoul. 05/06/2011. Commune de Boughezoul; 9,058 ha; 35°44’N 02°47’E. Lac Boughezoul is the largest artificial lake (barrage) on the Hauts Plateaux, located 90km north of the town of Médéa, and on the northern edge of the Sahara Desert. The wetland provides a key stop-over area for birds migrating across the Sahara. Up to 60% of the wetland is the water storage area, which fluctuates seasonally, and the site also includes permanent as well as seasonal rivers, streams and freshwater marshes. Internationally important numbers of migrant and wintering waterbirds use the permanent and seasonal wetlands, including two globally threatened species: Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris and White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala). Designation of the area as a Wetland of International Importance has been supported by WWF. Ramsar Site no. 1960. Most recent RIS information: 2011.

Le Cirque de Aïn Ouarka. 04/06/03; Nâama; 2,350 ha; 32°44'N 000°10'E. Known by geologists as a "cirque" or amphitheatre-like bowl, this geothermal wetland in the Ksour mountains of the Sahara Atlas is a basin circumscribed by abrupt mountains 1,672m high with two small ponds with saline, clear and deep water. The water from thermal sources is used as a curative spa, whereas the cold sources provide drinking water for the local population -- as a geothermal wetland, the site is extremely rare in the Mediterranean area. The site is famous for ancient practices of hydrotherapy and traditional salt exploitation, and it is an excellent biotope for at least two nationally protected, seriously threatened plant species, Pistacia atlantica desf and Helianthemum lippi. Most remarkable is the presence of the dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas) and mountain gazelle (Gazella gazella), classified as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List. Rock paintings and engravings date back more than 10,000 years and testify to the rich fauna of the region at that time (lions, elephants, wild sheep, bustards and ostriches). Ramsar site no. 1300. Most recent RIS information: 2003.

Les Gueltates d’Issakarassene.02/02/01; Tamanrasset; 35,100 ha; 22º25’N 005º45’E. Parc National de L’Ahaggar. A "guelta" is a wetland type specific to the mountains of Haggar and Tassili, a kind of rocky basin or "crater-hole" hollowed out of the riverbed. Either permanent or intermittent, gueltates are often found between 1,000 and 2,000 meters’ altitude, and their depth may vary between 4 and 15 meters. Permanent gueltates play a very important role in the lives of Tuareg nomads of the region and their livestock, as well as serving as stopover for migratory birds crossing the Sahara. Issakarassene, in the Haggar mountains, is a permanent wetland of a type that does not yet figure in the Ramsar classification system, fed both by permanent underground sources and sometimes by torrential rainstorms. The site supports a concentration of the last remaining examples of formerly thriving flora and fauna, of which several wetland-dependent species have been able to develop various forms of adaptation that have permitted them thus far to survive the gradual process of aridification of the Sahara, including fish species endemic to the desert – the cheetah Acinonyx jubatus and the gazelle Gazella dorcas are both classed as vulnerable by IUCN. The rocky, "lunar" landscape supports few human uses except as a source of water for nomads and their animals, and no significant threats are foreseen, except eventually a possible increase in tourism. Ramsar site no. 1058. Most recent RIS information: 2001.

Les Salines d'Arzew.12/12/04; Oran, Mascara; 5,778 ha; 35°40'N 000°18'E. A saline wetland forming part of western Algeria's wetland complex, which includes marshes, salt-lakes and brackish lakes and together play an important role as a stopover for migratory birds and wintering site for the Common and Ruddy Shelducks, the Greater Flamingo and the Greylag Goose. The birds take advantage of the open water, reeds and sandy habitats, stopping by both ways. The site plays a role in groundwater recharge and sediment retention. 80,000 tonnes of salt are produced yearly at the site, while agriculture and livestock raising are also practiced. No particular threat has been identified, nor are any special conservation measures in place. The area is used for awareness creation on celebrations like World Wetlands Days. Ramsar site no. 1425. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

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.

Marais de la Macta. 02/02/01; Mascara, Mostaganem, Oran; 44,500 ha; 35º41’N 000º10’W. In a triangular depression separated from the Gulf of Arzew near Oran by a dune cordon, a complex of open water, marsh, and more or less humid steppe some nine miles inland, supplied by three permanent wadis. The site represents a wetland type that is rare in North Africa in the diversity of habitats it contains, most notably "sansouires" salt marshes that recall the Camargue in France. A large biodiversity is found there, including a great variety of halophilic vegetation, as well as numerous invertebrates and fish. The wetland is important for both local residents and nomads, particular during dry periods, for pasturage for their cattle and their sheep, respectively. Ramsar site no. 1059. Most recent RIS information: 2001.

Marais de la Mekhada. 04/06/03; El Tarf; 8,900 ha; 36°48'N 008°00'E. A mostly freshwater marsh in an alluvial basin of the Mafragh plain, brackish in the downstream part where it meets the Mediterranean Sea through a narrow opening. With a depth of 0.5 to 1 m, the site is vegetated primarily by rushes Scirpus sp. covering more than 80% of the surface. The area is important as a nesting and wintering site for ducks and coots and serves as a nesting site for the IUCN Red-listed White-headed duck Oxyura leucocelphala, as well as the Ferruginous Duck Fuligule nyroca. Four species are considered to surpass the 1% threshold: Oxyura leucocelphala, Anser anser, Anas penelope, and Anas strepera. In summer,cattle pass through the marsh; the edges of its banks are partially used for agriculture, and the site is used for traditional fishing of eel and various fish species. Overgrazing is seen as a potential threat, especially in times of drought. Ramsar site no. 1301. Most recent RIS information: 2003.

Oasis de Moghrar et de Tiout. 04/06/03; Nâama; 195,500 ha; 32°53'N 000°40'W. Comprises the two Oases Moghrar (Foukani and Tahtani) and the Oasis Tiout at about 1000m altitude, connected by the upper reaches of the Oued Namous and ringed by the southern flank of the Ksour mountains at about 1700m. With the site's typically dry saharan climate, the oases support family agriculture, mainly the cultivation of date palms and vegetables at different levels of terraces; "feggous" and "Aghrass" are the date palms of excellent quality that are of conservation interest. The existence of the fouggaras, an 11th century or earlier system of water capture and distribution, is characteristic of the region and qualifies the site as a Ramsar wetland type Zk(c) - "Karst and other subterranean hydrological systems, human-made". Moghrar is ornithologically significant, with Common or Red Crossbill, woodpigeon, Blue Rock Thrush, among others. The area is known for its ancient rock art, a small prehistory museum, and its Ksar or "fortress", which was formerly the stronghold of the Sheik Bouamama, a key figure in the country's fight against colonialism. Ramsar site no. 1302. Most recent RIS information: 2003.

Oasis de Ouled Saïd.02/02/01; Adrar; 25,400 ha; 29º24’N 000º18’E. Added to the Montreux Record, 15 June 2001. A rare human-made wetland created on the vestiges of a "fossil" wadi; over time, the diminution of the water in the wadi required the construction of a "fouggara", an ingenious system for the capture and distribution of groundwater. The water, distributed in little open-air channels within the tradition of an ancestral social organization, is shared out equitably to individual gardens for the cultivation of palms, mainly, with some cereals and fruits as well. The site is also important for migratory birds and includes important archaelogical remains of an original Arab/Muslim architecture of "Ksars" (fortresses) from the 14th century. The fouggara method in use at Ouled Saïd is said to be an outstanding illustration of the Ramsar wise use principle, but because the oasis requires constant human maintenance and is slowly but surely being overtaken by the sand, Algerian authorities have requested at the time of designation that the site be placed on the Montreux Record. Removed from Montreux Record, 7 September 2009. Ramsar site no. 1060. Most recent RIS information: 2001.

Oasis de Tamantit et Sid Ahmed Timmi.02/02/01; Adrar; 95,700 ha; 27º45’N 000º15’E. National Heritage Monument. A succession of several oases, each overlooked by an ancient Ksar (fortress) and associated village, with palm cultivation below. Residents practice the traditional method of distribution of water for irrigation by means of "fouggara", a human-made hydraulic system said to have originated in Persia and been introduced to the Maghreb during the Arab conquest of the 7th century. The site is classed as, among others, wetland type Zk(c), probably the first ‘human-made subterranean hydrological system’ in the Ramsar List. The isolation of the site and the hostile environmental conditions have favored the evolution of a very interesting biological diversity. Depletion of groundwater reserves, caused in part by increasing use of modern agricultural pump-irrigation and monoculture, is seen as a potential threat, as is continuous advance of the "ergs" or wind-driven sand dunes. There is some tourism, with pedestrian and camel-back tours of the Ksars and fouggara, and local crafts are in considerable demand. Ramsar site no. 1061. Most recent RIS information: 2001.

Oglat Ed Daïra. 12/12/04; Nâama; 23,430 ha; 33°18'N 001°48'W. A seasonal, brackish lake fed by temporary rivers and surrounded by Tamarix, Juncus and Carex spp, the site is located in an arid, steppe area. It hosts two endemic, protected animal (Gazella gazella and Chlamydotis undulata) and plant species (Saccocalyx saturoides and Convolvus supinus), as well as numerous other mammal, reptile and bird species. The avifauna finds an important oasis in this area both during migration and for wintering, with some 19 species, including the Ruddy Shelduck, nesting at the site. The lake plays an important role in groundwater recharge and sediment trapping. It is also important in its educational role, as many school groups, as well as the general public, visit the site to learn about the importance and protection of wetlands in the steppe environment. Animal raising, especially sheep, is the main occupation of the local population, but this is causing erosion, over-abstraction of water, and deforestation in the area. Some counter-measures have included reforestation activities with fruit trees and windbreaks. A GEF/UNDP project is currently assisting in further conservation activities and in the elaboration of a management plan. Ramsar site no. 1426. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

Réserve intégrale du Lac El Mellah.12/12/04; El Tarf; 2,257 ha; 36°53'N 008°20'E. UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. A lagoon, linked by a 900m-long canal to the sea, that is part of the El Kala complex of wetland depressions. The site also comprises a small brackish delta with Salicornia and Juncus spp. and a smaller temporary freshwater lake which is fed by precipitation and groundwater and surrounded by a complex of sand dunes. The site is important for numerous waterbirds that use it as a staging and resting site during their migration, feeding site taking advantage of the abundant supplies of fish, invertebrates and bivalves, or nesting site. The salinity gradient and high productivity in the lagoon contributes to high phytoplankton, zooplankton and fish biodiversity, and it acts as a nursery and growing site for especially eels, before they travel to the Sargasso Sea. Thus its most important socio-economic role is in the provision of employment for fishermen. Local people also grow peanuts and raise livestock, which has caused over-grazing in some areas. With Ramsar sites Lacs Oubeïra and Tonga, El Mellah is part of the El Kala Biosphere Reserve. Ramsar site no. 1424. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

Réserve Intégrale du Lac Oubeïra. 04/11/83; El Tarf; 3,160 ha; 36º50’N 008º23’E. Added to the Montreux Record, 4 July 1990, removed from the Record, 18 November 1997. Within National Park. Extensive wetland complex, consisting of an endorheic freshwater lake linked to the Mediterranean Sea and a major dune system. Supports extensive plant life rare in Algeria, and abundant fish. Important for wintering waterbirds, some globally threatened species, and groundwater recharge. Human activities include water extraction for irrigation and domestic use. Surrounding area supports grazing and agriculture. Subject of a Ramsar Advisory Mission in 1990. Ramsar site no. 280. Most recent RIS information: 1999.

Réserve Intégrale du Lac Tonga.04/11/83; El Tarf; 2,700 ha; 36º53’N 008º31’E. Added to the Montreux Record, 16 June 1993. Within National Park. Extensive wetland complex, including wooded hills, wet forest, and an important sand dune system. This seasonal freshwater lake is linked to the Mediterranean Sea and provides important habitat for extensive beds of aquatic plants and nesting sites for several rare and globally threatened waterbirds. Human activities include eel farming, livestock grazing, and seasonal cultivation. Management issues include regulating eel fishing and irrigation draw down, and restoring the lake’s natural hydrological functions. Designated a Montreux Record site in 1993 because the lake is covered by emergent aquatic plants, leaving little open water. There has been a significant decrease in the water supply to the lake, thus causing changes to its ecological character. Subject of a Ramsar Advisory Mission in 1990. Removed from Montreux Record, 7 September 2009. Ramsar site no. 281. Most recent RIS information: 1999.

Réserve Naturelle du Lac de Béni-Bélaïd. 04/06/03; Jijel; 600 ha; 36°53'N 006°05'E. Nature Reserve. A small lake of 10 hectares, surrounded by lake vegetation represented by Tamarix, alder Alnus glutinosa and ash Fraxinus angustifolia, the reed Phragmites australis, and the narrow-leaf cattail Typha angustifolia, with numerous small streams, and with a dune cordon separating the lake from the Mediterrean, part of the coast of which is included in the site boundaries. The site supports a rich and diverse avifauna, including several rare species such as Aythya nyroca, Porphyrio porphyrio, and small communities of Alcedo atthis and Acrocephalus scirpaceus. Human pressures, especially from over-extraction during dry periods and from the extension of agriculture, are perceived as potential threats. Ramsar site no. 1303. Most recent RIS information: 2003.

Réserve naturelle du Lac de Réghaïa. 04/06/03; Alger; 842 ha; 36°46'N 003°20'E. Nature Reserve. The lake and marsh of Réghaïa corresponds to the wadi Réghaïa estuary, the mouth of which has been blocked by a sand ridge. Some 600m inland, an artificial barrier retains permanent water in the marshes, composed mainly of reeds and rushes. The coastal marsh of Réghaïa is the last vestige of the old Mitidja (alluvial plain of Algeria, limited by the sahel, the massif of Miliana, the Tellian Atlas and large Kabylie), and currently the only wetland of the "Algerois" geographical area following drainage works during the colonial era. It directly faces the Mediterranean and thus plays a major role for the migratory birds after the crossing of the Mediterranean Sea and from the Sahara desert. A small island, Agueli or Bounettah, one km off the coast, with the surrounding waters, is part of the site and increases its value for migratory birds. In spite of its declining size, the lake has revealed an unsuspected wealth and diversity not only in wintering migratory birds but also of rare nesting bird species - it shelters more than 203 waterbird species, among which four species are classified as rare. The lake provides irrigation for 1,200 ha of arable lands, and its beaches, the most beautiful of the Algiers coast, attract many visitors during summer. The Centre Cynégétique de Réghaïa organizes World Wetlands Day educational expositions for the public. Ramsar site no. 1304. Most recent RIS information: 2003.

Sebkha d’Oran. 02/02/01; Oran; 56,870 ha; 35º22’N 000º48’W. A large endorrheic depression of tectonic origin, with a seasonal saline lake and flats characterized by halophilic vegetation. The site surpasses the 1% threshold for pink flamingos and shelduck (Criterion 6). Ramsar site no. 1055. Most recent RIS information: 2001.

Sebkhet Bazer. 12/12/04; Sétif; 4,379 ha; 36°05'N 005°41'E. An endorrheic, permanent saltwater depression, fed by precipitation and domestic and industrial wastewater carried by three tributaries from the surrounding town of El Eulma. Typha and Juncus reeds form an important habitat around the mouth of the El Melah river into the lake, which is important for a number of nationally threatened bird species, such as Himantopus himantopus, Anser anser, Circus aeruginosus, Grus grus and Recurvirostra avosetta. The site also hosts more than 1% of the Common Shelduck's biogeographic population, showing the importance of saline conditions for some wintering species. The area is used for grazing animals and has touristic potential for birdwatchers. Industrial wastewater could threaten the site in future, and there are plans to build a purification plant to ensure the site's integrity. School groups visit the site on World Wetlands Day to learn about the environment and its protection. Ramsar site no. 1427. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

Sebkhet El Hamiet. 12/12/04; Sétif; 2,509 ha; 35°55'N 005°33'E. A temporary, shallow brackish wetland composed of two main habitats: the open saltwater lake, called sebkha, and the chott, a peripheral zone with a haline vegetation meadow. The site plays an important role for wintering waterbirds like the Common Shelduck, Philomachus pugnax, Charadrius and Larus spp. Livestock raising is the main economic activity for the local population, while outside the site agriculture (cereals and vegetables) is also practiced. Waste disposal and pollution from both domestic and industrial sources are the main problems around the site. A management plan needs to be elaborated and implemented by the different stakeholders, as conservation activities are currently very limited and undertaken haphazardly. Ramsar site no. 1428. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

Sebkhet El Melah.12/12/04; Ghardaia; 18,947 ha; 30°25'N 002°55'E. A important site for the conservation of Mediterranean and central Saharan biodiversity, thanks to its variety of habitats, which cater to different species. Two freshwater and saltwater bodies host different reptiles and amphibians; the Tamarix forest supports fish, crustacean and bird species; the dunes host small mammals and reptiles; while different algae, grasses and reeds are found throughout the site. The area's high productivity, caused by the high temperatures and consequently high decomposition rates, contributes to making this site significant for the reproduction and raising of chicks of several waterbirds. It hosts more than 1% of the biogeographic populations of Tadorna ferruginea and Aythya nyroca. Ancient graves can be found in the area, while the cliffs have been found to contain marine paleontological remains. Limited agricultural activities occur in the site, while in its surroundings there are palm cultivations organized under cooperatives. Waste disposal, human expansion and poaching are the main threats to the site. A management plan and classification as a nature reserve are foreseen. Ramsar site no. 1429. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

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.

Tourbière du Lac Noir. 04/06/03; El Tarf; 5 ha; 36°54'N 008°12'E. Within El Kala National Park. The "peat bog of the black lake", a former lake accidentally drained by two combined actions, the opening of a significant drinking-water drilling in 1990 and the building of the road connecting the towns of Annaba and El Kala. All that remains is the underlying peat bog, considered to be one of two sites where the yellow water lily occurs. The site forms part of an interesting area in terms of fauna and is visited by species like the Barbary Red Deer, European Genet, the Egyptian Mongoose, and Spotted Hyena. Ramsar site no. 1305. Most recent RIS information: 2003.

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.

See also: Photo essay on 13 Algerian wetlands
News item on 13 more Algerian wetlands

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