Country Profiles

Algeria - Country Profile

Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

Algerian biodiversity (natural and agricultural) is immensely rich, with approximately 16,000 known species overall. Known marine biodiversity amounts to 3,183 species and between 720 genera and 655 families. Marine flora is estimated to comprise 713 species, and up to 4,150 when littoral and island vegetation and marine and littoral ornithological fauna are considered. Mountain biodiversity is also very rich. Further, Algeria’s Sahara hosts a large diversity of ecosystems, most of which are still unknown.

Yet Algerian biodiversity is highly endangered. The country has a total of 121 species on the CITES list, of which 75 are endangered. They include 23 fish species, 14 mammals and 11 bird species. The most threatened plant species are the Tassili cypress, of which only 200 remain in the Tassili Biosphere Reserve, the black pine and thuriferous juniper. Among the most threatened animal species are the wild ungulates (gazelles, antelopes, barbary sheep, barbary deer), cheetah, monk seal and the barbary macaque. It is estimated that, within 20 years, fishery resources will have diminished by 30%, even if the country only fishes a third of the available authorized stock. Species affected include tuna, anchovies, sardines and langoustines. Coastal erosion, caused by sea level rise and the cumulative effects of storms, is undeniably the most significant form of degradation observed in the past 20 years. The province of Alger has been particularly hard hit having lost between 40-80% of its beaches in 50 years (1954-2003).

Marine ecosystems constitute an important source of revenue for the Algerian population, with many people’s livelihoods dependent on small-scale fishery and trade.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The main threats to biodiversity are driven by human activity and include the destruction or overexploitation of biological resources, extension of cultivated areas (the surface of natural steppe vegetation has decreased by 50% since 1989), urbanization and infrastructure development, pollution, tourism and hunting. In the fishery sector, the number of fishing vessels increased from 2,400 in 1999 to 4,000 in 2005. Increased pressure on biodiversity is compounded by the effects of climate change, notably through desertification, and the narrowness of the areas exploited, which is very likely to affect the development of commercial species such as sardines, anchovies and pikes.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The Strategy and National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity (SPAN) were defined in 1997. They were strengthened in 2002 through the development and implementation of the National Action Plan for Environment and Sustainable Development (NAPE-SD), which incorporates global and national objectives on the promotion of the conservation of the biological diversity of ecosystems, habitats and biomes. The SPAN favors an approach advocating habitat and ecosystem protection through the multiplication of protected areas.

The Algerian Government recently completed a report on progress achieved towards the Strategic Plan (2002-2010) and, in particular, towards its objective to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss at the national level. This assessment report will be catalytic in pushing forward a proposal for developing a new national biodiversity strategy and action plan to 2020, in accordance with the provisions of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (2011-2020).

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

Algeria largely met the first global target for 2010. A vast network of protected areas is in place, covering 36.5% of the national territory, and representing most of the country’s ecosystems. Moreover, 10% of ecological regions nowadays benefit from actual conservation and protection systems. Management plans for national parks have been developed and implemented. Within the next 20 years, no less than 25 new protected areas are planned for species and ecosystems that are critically endangered, along with 11 marine and coastal parks and 21 marine and coastal reserves.

Protected species in Algeria include 125 bird species, 56 mammal species, 46 reptile species, 144 insect species and 550 plant species. National action plans and programs have been elaborated for certain species, such as the Mediterranean monk seal and the red coral, and national legislation related to CITES is in progress to regulate the trade of vulnerable species. The Ministry of Land Planning, Environment and City (MATEV) developed a national integrated coastal management strategy in 2005 defining management directives for the sustainable use of marine and coastal resources.

Several surveillance programs have been set to monitor, prevent and reduce the impacts of marine water pollution on biodiversity. Specific programs have also been carried out on inland waters, arid and sub-humid areas, forests and mountains. Finally, large reforestation programs have been launched, targeting a 18% reforestation rate over the next 20 years. A national framework for biosecurity has been implemented that aims to protect agricultural systems, human health and traditional knowledge from the potentially harmful effects of GMOs.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

A law on protected areas was adopted in 2011, within the context of sustainable development, and aims to protect representative samples of Algerian biodiversity in its entirety (from terrestrial to marine biodiversity, fragile or rare areas, as well as the habitats of threatened or vulnerable species).

In February 2011, Algeria also became a signatory to the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization, adopted by the tenth meeting of the Convention. Algeria has also established a legal framework that sets the conditions for access to, circulation, transfer and valuation of, biological resources. Further to the sovereign rights of the State over the biological resources on its territory, under this legal framework, biological resources and the knowledge associated with them, shall be considered intellectual rights granted to concerned populations, households and individuals.

Various sectoral programs contain specific measures for the conservation of biological diversity. In the agricultural domain, a national plan for integrated agricultural and rural development has been elaborated, as well as the Sustainable Development Strategy in 2004. Further, 5,578 integrated rural development projects have been developed, of which 1,110 have already been implemented. Several among them involve the protection of agricultural plants and local livestock diversity. In urban planning, the National Spatial Planning Scheme (Schéma National d’Aménagement du Territoire - SNAT 2030), approved in June 2010, places special emphasis on the integration of ecological issues in spatial planning. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MADR) integrates environmental protection and the conservation and valuation of local biodiversity into its discussions with rural localities in the context of integrated development projects. Biodiversity conservation is also one of the main axes of the rural employment program (PER) implemented in seven mountain provinces. Finally, global targets have been incorporated into the Guidelines for Water (Schéma directeur de l’eau), Tourism Organization Plan and the Guidelines for Industrial Zones and Commercial Activity Zones.

Between 2000 and 2002, capacity building was provided for through the creation of several institutions by MATEV and with the objective to strengthen environmental governance and biodiversity conservation. These institutions include the Conservatoire National des Formations à l’Environnement (CNFE), the Observatoire National de l’Environnement et du Développement Durable (ONEDD), the Centre National de Développement des Ressources Biologiques (CNDRB), the Commissariat National du Littoral and the Agence Nationale des Changements Climatiques.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

An example of a monitoring tool for assessing the evolution of biodiversity conservation is the list of protected species elaborated by MATEV which, to date, includes 125 bird species, 56 mammal species, 46 reptile species, 144 insect species and 550 plant species.