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Location Morocco, Ifrane
Central coordinates 5o 10.00' West  33o 25.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4i
Area 50,000 ha
Altitude 1,225 - 2,103m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Groupe de Recherche pour la Protection des Oiseaux au Maroc (Affiliate)

Site description The site is a 50,000 ha proposed Natural Park stretching for some 40 km between the towns of Ifrane and Azrou in the west central Middle Atlas. The area is part of the drainage basin of the Oued Sebou. Although lying between 1,225 and 2,103 m, the relief is rather gentle, in contrast to the steeper slopes of the eastern Middle Atlas. The landscape is typically karstic, scattered with dolines, some of which are occupied by lakes, e.g. Dayet Aoua, Dayet Hachlaf, Aguelmane Afennourir. The latter, covering 380 ha and lying at 1,800 m, is one of Morocco’s four designated Ramsar Sites. It is actually a shallow marsh, in which water is artificially retained by a low dyke, and is nowhere more than 2 m deep. In exceptional drought years (e.g. 1995) it can dry out completely. Dayet Aoua occupies about 50 ha and is relatively well conserved. Annual precipitation is 1,100 mm, much of which falls as winter snow (one of Morocco’s two ski-resorts lies just to the west of the park boundary).The park contains some of the most densely wooded parts of the country, although these only cover a small portion of its area. The principal woody species are cedar Cedrus atlantica and oak Quercus rotundifolia, but Q. faginea, Juniperus oxycedrus, J. thurifera, Ilex aquifolium, Crataegus laciniata and Pinus pinaster are also relatively common. The non-woody flora is also very rich, although there are few endemic species. Aguelmane Afennourir is surrounded by Juncus bufonius, and there are several islets of Scirpus holoschoenus. The park is relatively sparsely populated. The principal economic activity of the inhabitants is the rearing of livestock, particularly sheep, but there are increasing levels of tourism.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 2 for key species. The avifauna of the park is exceptionally rich, with around 142 known species, of which 120 breed, including small numbers of Marmaronetta angustirostris and Falco naumanni. Of the nine species of the Mediterranean North Africa biome that occur, eight breed while the remaining one, Sylvia cantillans, is only a scarce summer visitor (Table 2). Many Palearctic passage migrants pass through the park, and, depending on conditions, the lakes can also host large numbers of waterfowl. At Aguelmane Afennourir two species, Tadorna ferruginea and Fulica cristata, often exceed IBA threshold values as winter visitors and regularly breed in small numbers on its islets. Dayet Aoua can hold large numbers of Fulica cristata, and up to 1,200 Marmaronetta angustirostris have been observed. Geronticus eremita was once common, but has disappeared from the region since 1981 and has only rarely been seen since—most recently at Aguelmane Afenourir in June 1994. Numenius tenuirostris has also been recorded once, as a passage visitor in 1964.

Non-bird biodiversity: Although the carnivore Panthera pardus panthera (CR) formerly occurred, it is now extinct. The primate Macaca sylvanus (VU) is still reasonably common in the forested areas of the park. Six endemic reptiles are also present.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Barbary Partridge Alectoris barbara resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea winter  650 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris winter  1,200 individuals  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata winter  750 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Maghreb Green Woodpecker Picus vaillantii resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans breeding  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Spotless Starling Sturnus unicolor resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Moussier's Redstart Phoenicurus moussieri resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica breeding  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2001 high not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - abstraction of ground water (agricultural use) happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - nutrient loads happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Ifrane National Park 54,000 protected area contains site 50,000  
Lac d'Afennourir Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 800 protected area contained by site 800  

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
hunting -
nature conservation and research -
tourism/recreation -
water management -

References BCEOM-SECA (1995b, h, i), Green and El Hamzaoui (1998).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Parc Naturel d'Ifrane. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife