The Wetlands of Chott Ech Chergui, Algeria – March 18th, 2009
A small section of Algeria’s Mediterranean coastline, near the border with Morocco, is visible in the upper left corner. Slightly inland, a large green lake whose shores are coated with tan sediments, is visible.
Called the Sebkha of Oran, it is a salt lake that covers most of the territory of the Boutlélis District in Algeria’s Oran Province.
Moving farther inland, away from the fertile green coast, another large lake can be observed. This lake, known as Chott Ech Chergui, is a large endorheic salt lake in the Saharan Atlas. It is one of the largest lakes in Algeria, with an area of about 2000 km². This area is designated a Ramsar wetland of international importance.
According to the Ramsar Organisation, it is the second largest chott in North Africa; an extensive closed depression containing permanent and seasonal saline, brackish, and freshwater lakes and pools, as well as hot springs.
The habitats here are diverse, including steppe areas that are always green, the land around the chott and the “sebkhas” which has no vegetation, and acquatic areas with lake and marsh vegetation.
Many threatened and vulnerable plant species are present. The area is also important for several species of migratory waterbirds, which use it as a site for nesting and wintering.
The area is used for agriculture and raising livestock by humans. However, human use also may also cause environmental problems, such as overgrazing, poaching, desertification, and deforestation for firewood.