The limestone massif of Jbel Tazekka is an isolated promontory of the Middle Atlas, forming the southern side of the Taza Gap between the Middle Atlas and the Rif, about 20 km south-west of the town of Taza. The Parc National de Tazekka covers 580 ha of relict cedar forest Cedrus atlantica descending from the summit of Jbel Tazekka at 1,980 m to around 1,130 m. The limits of the IBA include a proposed extension that would increase the area of the park to 12,800 ha, and lower its lower altitudinal limit to around 1,100 m. This extension encompasses other types of forest and woodland, and picturesque landscapes of cliffs and caves including the tourist site of the Gouffre de Friouato, the largest and most famous cave in Morocco. The vegetation is more characteristic of the Rif than the Middle Atlas, and includes such species as Quercus lusitanica, Cerastium avium, Adenocarpus decorticans, Viola mumbyens, Potentilla miorantha, Teucrium oxylepis, Cistus laurifolius, Stipa gigantea and Pteris sp. Lower down there are forests of Quercus suber and Q. rotundifolia. The park receives an annual precipitation of 1,800 mm, much of which falls as snow during the winter.
See Box and Table 2 for key species. A total of 54 species breeds, and 28 others (mainly passerines) have been recorded. Falco naumanni is a rare breeder visiting in small numbers. Of the eight species of the Mediterranean North Africa biome that occur, seven breed, while the status of Sturnus unicolor is unknown, although it is considered rare.
Non-bird biodiversity: The mammal Hystrix cristata (LR/nt) is present, and a reintroduction scheme for Cervus elaphus barbarus (LR/nt) is being undertaken by AEFCS in a 500-ha enclosure on the south-east side of Jbel Tazekka. Three endemic reptiles, Psammodromus microdactylus, Ophisaurus koellikeri and Blanus tingitanus, occur. The plant Teucrium oxylepis, a Moroccan endemic, is also found at the site.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The 580-ha Parc National de Tazekka was created by ‘Arrête viziriel’ on 11 July 1950. AEFCS are seeking to extend the park to 12,800 ha, incorporating a central core zone of 2,500 ha, a 6,000-ha cork-oak production zone (Bab Azhar) and a tourist zone to include the forest of Sidi Chiker, the Gouffre de Friaouto, Ras Maa and Sidi Mejber. Human activities include livestock-rearing, agriculture and tourism.The park is relatively well preserved, and only the eastern slopes of Jbel Tazekka appear to suffer any degree of overgrazing. The local population by and large respect the forest-conservation measures enforced by AEFCS. The recent creation of improved tourist facilities (picnic areas, tourist circuits and a small ecological museum) may lead to increased numbers of visitors, with greater difficulties of control and higher levels of disturbance to breeding birds. A further threat may be the increased use of pesticides in orchards surrounding the park, where many passerines forage.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Parc National de Tazekka. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 14/04/2021.