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Morocco's wetlands

Morocco is characterized by its great ecological diversity, dense vegetation and wide animal stock, and as a major crossing point for birds migrating between Europe and Africa. Morocco's wetlands are a magnet for a large number of resident and migratory waterfowl between continents. These migratory birds spend almost half a year in Europe and the other half in Africa. Due to its biodiversity and cultural heritage, Morocco's wetlands are very important as a habitat for most rare and endangered birds. It is also a source of water, fish farming, agriculture, fodder and wood, as well as a tourist, aesthetic and recreational space.

These wetlands are also of a very economical importance as they are a natural resource that help in providing various substances for the local inhabitants as well as vital ecological and environmental services for different beings. They are also considered as a continuous renewable source that feeds the groundwater. They also help in reducing soil erosion, controlling floods and maintaining the balance of gas in the air.

Morocco's total lakes and marshes occupies an area of more than 400,000 hectares. There are about 24 of them in addition to around 3,500 km of coastline, as well as a river network of tens of thousands of kilometers. These areas are known to contain water in whole or in part or include moisture and water during the whole year or for a temporary period. These areas are divided into what is natural, such as lakes, swamps and stretches, and artificial dams and basins.

The Blue lagoon (Merja Zarqa) is classified as one of the world's protected areas, located about 120 km north of Rabat on the Moulay Bousselham beach on the Atlantic coast. It extends for over 11,420 hectares, including 7,300 hectares of biological reserve and 6,800 hectares of arable land. It has a social and economic role reflected on the population of the region (20,000 people), who depend on the exploitation of natural resources through traditional and modern agriculture, tourism, commercial fishing, sports and livestock breeding.

In the middle Atlas, there are many lakes and natural springs such as the lake of Ouiouan. The natural springs and flows are the resources that feed the lake, and extends over an area of 17.5 hectares. This lake contains a large variety of freshwater fish. Its beauty makes it the most important tourist attraction in the Middle atlas, it is characterized by an average depth of 1.2 meters and a capacity of 240,000 cubic meters and an perimeter of about 2000 meters as well as the embrace of prominent water plants and important fauna.

Even though Morocco was the first country in North Africa to sign the Ramsar Convention on wetlands, this does not mean that everything is fine. The lack of awareness of the importance of these areas is a major challenge that we need to face in order to protect them. The responsibility of protection should be shared between the local inhabitants, visitors, farmers, authorities and scientists.

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