Morocco is a diverse country with Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, hot deserts, alpine peaks, grasslands, and forests. Situated in North Africa, Morocco borders Western Sahara, Algeria, and Spain and stretches for a total area of 446, 550 km2 and boasts majestic mountain ranges including the Atlas and Rif Mountains.
Ecological Regions Of Morocco
Mediterranean Conifer And Mixed Forests
The Mediterranean conifer and mixed forests ecoregion are classified under the Temperate Coniferous Forests Biome. This ecoregion covers mid to high elevations of mountain ranges in North Africa and Southern Spain. In Morocco, isolated patches of this forest occur in the Rif Mountains, Middle Atlas, and High Atlas Mountains. Average yearly rainfall in the region is recorded at 1,000 mm, but in high elevations, the figure can rise to between 1,600 mm and 2,200 mm.
The endemic Atlas cedar dominates the region’s canopy cover alongside oak, conifer, yew, firs, and juniper tree species. Fauna roaming the region includes the Barbary leopard, Barbary macaque, Atlas deer and the Maghrebian wild cat. Deforestation is the major threat to the ecoregion and the Tazekka National Park, and Ifrane Forest Reserve have been established to facilitate the region’s conservation.
North Saharan Steppe And Woodlands
The North Saharan steppe and woodlands ecoregion is classified in the Deserts and Xeric Shrublands Biome. This ecoregion covers the western and northern border of the larger Sahara Desert. The region experiences rainfall during the cooler winter, facilitating the flowering season for numerous plants before the dry and hot summer. The average rainfall is recorded between 50 to 100 mm per year while maximum temperatures range between 40 to 45 Degrees Celsius.
The ecoregion is home to numerous reptile species such as the desert varan and horned viper. Species of the gazelle, Gundi, and gerbil abound in the region. The fauna in the region continues to face rampant poaching while the ecoregion is threatened by overgrazing and water pollution in the riparian habitats.
Mediterranean Woodlands And Forest
Classified in the Mediterranean Forests, Woodlands, and Scrub Biome is the Mediterranean woodlands and forests ecoregion. The ecoregion covers the Mediterranean coastal plain, rugged hills and the region surrounding the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. The ecoregion is characterized by hot and dry summers and mild and humid winters. The forests are dominated by the Aleppo pine, holm oaks, junipers and cork oak alongside wild olive and carob woodlands. Lions, leopards, stag, and bears roam the region, although they remain endangered and near extinct. Threats in the region include deforestation, land transformation for agriculture, overgrazing and fires. The ecoregion is home to some of Morocco’s largest cities, including Rabat and Casablanca.
Mediterranean Dry Woodlands And Steppe
The Mediterranean dry woodlands and steppe ecoregion is classified in the Mediterranean Forests and Scrub Biome. The ecoregion covers inland plateaus and the High Atlas mountain ranges in Morocco. The region has an arid climate with yearly rainfall recorded between 100-300 mm. Sand and halophile landscapes characterize the region’s geography. Grasslands and shrubland provide habitats for the Barbary sheep, hyena, wild boar, European otter, and gazelles. Human activities including woodcutting and hunting and cattle overgrazing have degraded this ecoregion.
Other Ecoregions In Morocco
The Marine ecoregions of Morocco are Alboran Sea; Atlantic Ocean; Mediterranean Sea and Saharan Upwelling. These marine ecoregions provide habitats to abundant marine life but are continuously threatened by oil and industrial pollution. The Temporary Maghreb and Permanent Maghreb make up the country’s freshwater ecoregions. Other ecoregions are Mediterranean acacia-organic dry woodlands and succulent thickets and the Mediterranean High Atlas Juniper Steppe.