Parc Naturel d'Ifrane

Country/territory: Morocco

IBA Criteria met: A1, A3, A4i (2001)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 50,000 ha

Groupe de Recherche pour la Protection des Oiseaux au Maroc
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2001 high not assessed not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
The site is a 50,000 ha proposed Natural Park stretching for some 40 km between the towns of Ifrane and Azrou in the west central Middle Atlas. The area is part of the drainage basin of the Oued Sebou. Although lying between 1,225 and 2,103 m, the relief is rather gentle, in contrast to the steeper slopes of the eastern Middle Atlas. The landscape is typically karstic, scattered with dolines, some of which are occupied by lakes, e.g. Dayet Aoua, Dayet Hachlaf, Aguelmane Afennourir. The latter, covering 380 ha and lying at 1,800 m, is one of Morocco’s four designated Ramsar Sites. It is actually a shallow marsh, in which water is artificially retained by a low dyke, and is nowhere more than 2 m deep. In exceptional drought years (e.g. 1995) it can dry out completely. Dayet Aoua occupies about 50 ha and is relatively well conserved. Annual precipitation is 1,100 mm, much of which falls as winter snow (one of Morocco’s two ski-resorts lies just to the west of the park boundary).The park contains some of the most densely wooded parts of the country, although these only cover a small portion of its area. The principal woody species are cedar Cedrus atlantica and oak Quercus rotundifolia, but Q. faginea, Juniperus oxycedrus, J. thurifera, Ilex aquifolium, Crataegus laciniata and Pinus pinaster are also relatively common. The non-woody flora is also very rich, although there are few endemic species. Aguelmane Afennourir is surrounded by Juncus bufonius, and there are several islets of Scirpus holoschoenus. The park is relatively sparsely populated. The principal economic activity of the inhabitants is the rearing of livestock, particularly sheep, but there are increasing levels of tourism.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 2 for key species. The avifauna of the park is exceptionally rich, with around 142 known species, of which 120 breed, including small numbers of Marmaronetta angustirostris and Falco naumanni. Of the nine species of the Mediterranean North Africa biome that occur, eight breed while the remaining one, Sylvia cantillans, is only a scarce summer visitor (Table 2). Many Palearctic passage migrants pass through the park, and, depending on conditions, the lakes can also host large numbers of waterfowl. At Aguelmane Afennourir two species, Tadorna ferruginea and Fulica cristata, often exceed IBA threshold values as winter visitors and regularly breed in small numbers on its islets. Dayet Aoua can hold large numbers of Fulica cristata, and up to 1,200 Marmaronetta angustirostris have been observed. Geronticus eremita was once common, but has disappeared from the region since 1981 and has only rarely been seen since—most recently at Aguelmane Afenourir in June 1994. Numenius tenuirostris has also been recorded once, as a passage visitor in 1964.

Non-bird biodiversity: Although the carnivore Panthera pardus panthera (CR) formerly occurred, it is now extinct. The primate Macaca sylvanus (VU) is still reasonably common in the forested areas of the park. Six endemic reptiles are also present.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Parc Naturel d'Ifrane. Downloaded from on 08/08/2022.