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The El Kala National Park and Environs, Algeria: An Ecological Evaluation

  • Anthony C. Stevenson (a1), Jamie Skinner (a2), G. Edward Hollis (a3) and Michael Smart (a4)
Extract

The structure of the El Kala National Park, its aims, zonation scheme for conservation and development, and boundaries, are described. Those ecobiomes and ecosystems which merit the highest classification and protection within the National Park are described and evaluated along with the numerous sites of similar importance outside the Park. A summary evaluation table (Table III) of the habitats, the species, and the resources for sustainable utilization, is presented.

Three wetlands within the Park—Lake Oubeïra (perennial freshwater lake: a Ramsar Convention site important for wintering waterfowl), Lake Tonga (semi-perennial freshwater lake with surrounding marsh and earn a Ramsar Convention site with significant numbers of breeding waterbirds), and the Bou Redim marsh (freshwater carr with open water and a breeding colony of herons) are placed in the highest category of protection for the National Park. Four wetlands outside the National Park—the Mkhada marsh (8,900 ha of seasonally-flooded freshwater marsh), Lake Fetzara (15,000 ha freshwater lake now refilled with water in winter), Lac des Oiseaux (40 ha perennial freshwater lake), and the Cheffia Reservoir (3,000 ha)—are considered as important and consequently deserving of legislative protection. A marine section of the Park needs further study.

The highest level of protection is recommended for the coastal dunes, including alder carrs, within and outside the Park; for the pristine low-montane Cork Oak woodlands, including the last remnants of Pinus pinaster ssp. renoui in Algeria; for the rare Lusitanian Oak forests including the small and declining Algerian population of Barbary Deer (Cervus elephas barbarus); and for some of the last remaining riverine woodland in North Africa. In addition, the healthy and diverse population of raptors is noted. The megalithic and later archaeological remains are extensive, valuable, and little-known.M

Ecological improvements to Lakes Tonga and Fetzara, which were drained in the 1930s, have recently developed from the operation of the old sluices to hold water back in the lakes, although at Lake Tonga some of the marginal vegetation and alder forest appears to be suffering from the prolonged inundation. The construction of the large Mexanna Dam within the National Park will desiccate the Mkhada Marsh, and Lake Oubeïra may have its ecological character changed if it is used for regulatory storage. The dune ecosystems are being affected by agriculture, groundwater pumping, industrial forestry (including perhaps a pulp mill), and the new road which is being driven into the heart of the dunes. Fishing and aquaculture may further reduce the suitability of Lakes Oubeïra and Melah for wintering waterfowl, and deliberate fires continue to ravage the Cork Oak forests.

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References
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