Land and Resources, Environmental Issues
private holdings, overgrazing, desertification, national parks, Mediterranean Sea
Among the countries of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, Algeria is the most advanced in nature conservation, with a comprehensive environmental law that includes nature conservation, a system of protected areas, and universities and institutions with specialized training in conservation. The government manages nine national parks, five nature preserves, and five special hunting areas. Other protected areas include special forest areas and private holdings. No marine parks exist, but the government has the authority to close maritime areas to fishing. Overall, about 24 percent of the country is within the protected area system, although only about 2.5 percent (1997) is truly protected. National parks, including the giant Tassili N’Ajjer National Park in the eastern corner of the country, comprise a large proportion of this total.
The effects of Algeria’s human population on the fragile landscape have been severe. The greatest ecological threats are deforestation and burning of scrub vegetation, conversion of steppe habitat to arable land, and soil erosion due to overgrazing and poor farming practices. Pollution of Mediterranean coastal waters is pervasive. Wetlands are in particular danger of destruction. In addition, desertification caused by the encroaching Sahara poses a constant ecological and environmental menace.
Fresh water is scarce in Algeria. However, per capita consumption of water is low, and the majority of urban and rural populations have access to safe water supplies.
Algeria has obliged itself to cooperate with other nations in protecting the Mediterranean Sea from pollution and degradation of sensitive habitats and to work toward a goal of the protection of more than 5 percent of its land. Algeria has ratified an international convention on wetlands.
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