Mediterranean woodlands and forests

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Marj escarpment, Jebel Akhdar mountains, northeastern Libya.
Al Bakour escarpment, Jebel Akhdar, Libya.

The Mediterranean woodlands and forests is an ecoregion, of the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome, in the coastal plains, hills, and mountains bordering the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean in North Africa.

Geography[edit]

The Mediterranean woodlands and forests occupy an area of 357,900 square kilometers (138,200 sq mi) in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. The main portion of the ecoregions extends along the coastal plains and hills of the Maghreb, from near Agadir on the Atlantic coast of Morocco in the west to Sfax on the Gulf of Gabes in Tunisia. The ecoregion extends inland to cover the lower slopes of the Middle Atlas and High Atlas ranges of Morocco, with isolated enclaves along the Saharan Atlas range of Algeria.

Two coastal enclaves lie further east along the Mediterranean Sea: one along the southeastern Tunisian shore of the Gulf of Gabes, including the island of Djerba; and the second in the Jebel Akhdar mountains along the shore of the Cyrenaica Peninsula in northeastern Libya.

Ecoregion setting[edit]

The Mediterranean woodlands and forests are bounded on the south by the drier Mediterranean dry woodlands and steppe, which occupies the plateaus and mountain ranges bordering the Sahara; and on the north by the Alboran Sea which is the westernmost part of the Mediterranean Sea.[1] The Mediterranean acacia-argania dry woodlands and succulent thickets, which occupy the coastal plain of southern Morocco, bounds the Mediterranean woodlands and forests on the southwest.

The Mediterranean forests and woodlands surrounds the Mediterranean conifer and mixed forests ecoregion, which exists as a series of enclaves in the coastal Rif Mountains and interior Middle Atlas and High Atlas Morocco, the coastal Tell Atlas and eastern Saharan Atlas of Algeria, and the Kroumerie and Mogod ranges of Tunisia. The Mediterranean High Atlas juniper steppe ecoregion occupies the highest elevations of the High Atlas.

Flora[edit]

Foliage and cone of the Aleppo Pine—(Pinus halepensis).

The natural vegetation consists of forests, woodlands, and shrublands. The five chief plant communities are:

Holm Oak—(Quercus ilex) trees occur in the Mediterranean woodlands and forests ecoregion
  • Holm Oak and Kermes Oak forests and woodlands: forests, woodlands, and shrublands of Holm Oak—(Quercus ilex) and Kermes Oak—(Quercus coccifera) are the most widespread plant community, found from the coast to the mountains on a variety of climates and soils. Holm Oak forests formerly found in lowland areas with deep and humid soils have mostly been displaced by agriculture.
  • Wild Olive and Carob woodlands and maquis: open woodlands of wild Olive—(Olea europaea spp.) (Olea europaea europaea and Olea europaea maroccana), and Carob—(Ceratonia siliqua) once covered lowland areas with deep, drier soils, but these areas have mostly been converted to agriculture. The remaining wild olive and carob woodlands have been transformed by fire, grazing, and firewood collection into maquis shrublands. Wild olives have also been displaced by cultivated varieties to produce olive oil, and carob is harvested for fodder.

Fauna[edit]

The Mediterranean woodlands and forests were home to a large variety of large mammals. Unfortunately, many of those (especially the large predators) has disappeared as a result of human influences. Examples of large mammals that are either extinct or severely endangered in the Mediterranean woodlands and forests of North Africa are the Egyptian Wolf, the Atlas Bear, the Barbary Lion and the Barbary Leopard. Others can still be found, for example the Barbary stag. The fauna of the Mediterranean woodlands and forests contains both African as European influences and is in this respect unique in the world.

History, conservation and current threats[edit]

This ecoregion is densely settled, and much transformed by agriculture, grazing, fire, and timber cutting and firewood gathering. It is home to several large cities, including Casablanca, Rabat, Tangier, and Fez in Morocco, Algiers and Oran in Algeria, Tunis in Tunisia, and Derna in Libya and Spain.

See also[edit]

References[edit]