Parc National du Haut Atlas Oriental

Country/territory: Morocco

IBA Criteria met: A3 (2001)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 55,252 ha

Groupe de Recherche pour la Protection des Oiseaux au Maroc

Site description
A proposed National Park, this site covers 55,252 ha of the High Atlas between Midelt and Er Rachidia. The base rock consists of limestone with some igneous intrusions. The site ranges in altitude from 1,645 m in the bed of the Oued Arheddou to 3,102 m at the summit of Jbel Tanrhourt. At its western end it includes the twin lakes of Isli and Tislite, near Imilchil. The northern slopes enjoy an annual precipitation of 400–600 mm, and are consequently well-wooded, while the southern slopes are drier, receiving only 200–300 mm, and are more open. Winter snows are abundant and long-lasting at the higher elevations. On the northern side, woody vegetation consists of dense cedar Cedrus atlantica and pine Pinus pinaster maghrebiana forests, oak Quercus rotundifolia woodland, open Juniperus thurifera woodland and, at lower altitudes, some pine Pinus halepensis. The mountain summits and high plateaus support xerophytic steppe vegetation, and there is some grassland in wetter areas. On the southern slopes cedar woodland is disappearing, but sparse oak and pine woodland persists. Steppe vegetation is predominant, dominated by alfa Stipa tenacissima at lower altitudes.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 2 for key species. Ninety-five breeding species have been reported, including two Sahara–Sindian biome species (Table 2), as well as many raptor species. However, three vultures, Gyps fulvus, Neophron percnopterus and Gypaetus barbatus, have recently disappeared, and populations of Aquila chrysaetos and Buteo rufinus have also crashed.

Non-bird biodiversity: The last confirmed Moroccan report of the carnivore Panthera pardus panthera (CR) came from the site in 1993, but it is feared locally extinct. Three other globally threatened mammals are present: an important and increasing population of Ammotragus lervia (VU), estimated at 200 animals in 1996; small numbers of Macaca sylvanus (VU); and Gazella cuvieri (EN), which is fairly regularly seen in a proposed eastern extension to the park. Two endemic reptiles, Quedenfeldtia moerens and Lacerta andreanskyi, are present, and a third, Ophisaurus koellikeri, is suspected to occur. A total of 52 species, subspecies or varieties of plant endemic to Morocco or considered nationally rare are also known from this site.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Parc National du Haut Atlas Oriental. Downloaded from on 08/08/2022.