Located in the Rif mountain range in northern Morocco, a few kilometres east of the town of Chefchaouen, 75% of this 60,000 ha proposed Natural Park lies in rugged terrain, on slopes with a gradient of more than 20%. The site ascends from near sea-level (20 m where the northern boundary crosses the Oued Laou near its estuary) to the summits of Jbels Taloussine (2,005 m), Tissouka (2,122 m) and Lakraa (2,159 m)—an altitudinal range of more than 2,000 metres. The limestone massif of these peaks is mainly forested, the principal woody species being Quercus rotundifolia, Q. fagina, Q. coccifera, Q. suber, Abies maroccana, Pinus pinaster, P. halepensis, P. clusiana, Olea europea, and Tetraclinus articulata. Other species include Juniperus oxycedrus and J. phoenicea. The non-woody flora is also extremely rich, with a high level of endemism, and has been the object of numerous studies.
See Box and Table 2 for key species. A total of 113 species have been recorded, many of them raptors. Falco naumanni may nest in small numbers. All nine species of the Mediterranean North Africa biome (A01) that occur at the site also breed there, although two, Caprimulgus ruficollis and Oenanthe leucura, are considered rare or irregular. A species of the Sahara–Sindian biome (A02) also breeds (see Table 2).
Non-bird biodiversity: The primate Macaca sylvanus (VU) and the tortoise Testudo graeca (VU) are present, as is one Moroccan endemic reptile Chalcides polylepis.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The Parc Naturel de Talassemtane has been proposed since 1969, but has not yet been gazetted. Several controlled hunting zones lay within its limits in 1996—it is recommended that these should be rescinded without delay. The proposed park legislation will prohibit all environmentally detrimental activities, including the cutting of trees, hunting and fishing. However, human activities currently include traditional agriculture and extensive livestock-rearing of cattle and goats, and the site is consequently suffering from overgrazing and the clearance of land on steep slopes—often by fire—in order to permit cultivation of cereal crops. Both these practices are contributing heavily to soil erosion and degradation of the forest. The avifauna is also threatened by illegal hunting and destruction of nests by shepherds. Ecotourism, currently undeveloped, could be an income-generating activity for the park since the nearby town of Chefchaouen is a major tourist destination throughout the year. A management plan has been developed under the auspices of AEFCS. The conservation priority is for the park to be gazetted and this plan put into operation.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Parc Naturel de Talassemtane. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 21/04/2021.