The Nefhusa (Nafusah) Protected Area is situated in Jabal Nefhusa, north and east of the town of Gharyan (Garian), some 70 km south-south-west of Tarabalus. It includes a section of the Jabal Nefhusa escarpment, from the peaks at 500 m down to the coastal plain, including the foothills and a section of the plain. Three wadi systems are included. Areas of natural vegetation remain and there is a complex of small springs with old Pistacia trees, date-palms and thick scrub below the crags at Abu Gharyan. A dam on the Wadi Ghan in the eastern portion of the reserve, built to provide water for irrigation of the adjacent plains, has created a reservoir some 12.5 km long when full. The level of the reservoir fluctuates greatly. Rainfall on the peaks allows a lusher vegetation, with Tamarix spp., old Pistacia spp. trees and self-regenerating date-palm Phoenix dactylifera. On the lower slopes and foothills there are pockets of natural vegetation, consisting of spiny cushion plants and Juniperus spp. and Pistacia spp. woodland, surrounded by extensive plantations of introduced Acacia spp., Pinus spp. and Eucalyptus spp. Average annual rainfall is about 400 mm.
See Box and Table 2 for key species. There have been no full surveys, but at least 46 species are known to occur.
Non-bird biodiversity: The fauna includes the North African endemic gundi Ctenodactylus gundi.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The site was established as a Protected Area in 1978/79. The area is populated by the Nefhusa Berber people. Overgrazing by sheep and goats has led to the loss of much of the natural vegetation of the area which has resulted in soil erosion. Exotic tree species have been planted in attempts to combat further erosion. Where grazing has been excluded the regeneration of natural vegetation has been rapid. The site is easily accessible from numerous adjacent towns and recreation, centred on the reservoir, is a significant land-use. The dam has affected seasonal water flow in Wadi Ghan.