An ornithological survey of Algerian wetlands: Important Bird Areas, Ramsar sites and threatened species
Surveys were undertaken of 100 major wetlands across ten distinct regions of Algeria in 2002–2008, to determine the numbers of wetland birds using these sites, to provide new data on wetlands of international importance, and thus to indicate priorities for conservation action. Ninety-nine wetland birds were recorded and 41 sites met one or more of the criteria required for an Important Bird Area (IBA). This brough the total number of sites qualifying as IBAs in Algeria to 53 of which 21 are not currently listed as part of the IBA network. Fourteen of Algeria’s current IBAs qualify as Ramsar sites, and all 21 of the potential IBAs also qualify for designation as wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. The sites visited during the surveys were spread across the Tell, the Hauts Plateaux and the Sahara and most held over 1% of a threatened waterbird species. Many of the sites included in the surveys were found to be more important for breeding and migratory waterbirds than had previously been recognised, and their locations along three north–south corridors make them particularly vital as staging areas before or after crossing the Sahara desert. We focused on sites used by wetland birds for breeding and found that Lake Fetzara was particularly important, hosting 23 of the 36 species known to breed in northeast Algeria. Building upon previous work, the present study provides a thorough assessment of the ornithological importance of Algerian wetlands. Many of the internationally important sites and ornithological hot-spots are under heavy pressure from man and are in urgent need of protection and other conservation measures.
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