• Keywords: Algeria Cultural Landscapes, Oasis, Moghrar, Foukani, Tahtani, Tiout, Figuig, Foggara.

1. OFFICIAL CLASSIFICATIONS AND CATEGORIES

1.1 National and International Classification Lists

The Moghrar Oasis and Tiout Wetland are in the “List of Wetlands of International importance” (2013) edited by RAMSAR. RAMSAR site no. 1302. Most recent RIS information: 2003.

1.2. Cultural Landscape Category/Tipology

Organically evolved landscapes
Relict (or fossil) landscape

1.3. Description and Justification by Med-O-Med

Description

In general, oases are considered by UNESCO and Med-O-Med as sample of the human genius in action. Skills, and particularly traditional know-how in coping with a hostile environment that is scarce in resources, appeared in the development of techniques enabling water (and land) to be used more judiciously, whether available permanently or cyclically. The two Oases Moghrar (Foukani and Tahtani) and the Oasis Tiout show an unique sample of interaction between human being and nature. Basis on the UNESCO definition of Cultural Landscape (UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, Article 1, 1972, Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, 2008), and considering this region as a result of “the combined works of nature and of man”, Med-O-Med resolve to value this site as a Cultural Landscape because of: -Its Natural heritage components: this Lanscape comprises the two Oases Moghrar (Foukani and Tahtani) and the Oasis Tiout at about 1000m altitude, connected by the upper reaches of the Oued Namous and ringed by the southern flank of the Ksour mountains at about 1700m. With the site’s typically dry saharan climate, the oases support family agriculture, mainly the cultivation of date palms and vegetables at different levels of terraces, “feggous” and “Aghrass” are the date palms of excellent quality that are of conservation interest. Moghrar is ornithologically significant, with Common or Red Crossbill, woodpigeon, Blue Rock Thrush, among others. -Its Cultural heritage components: the existence of the fouggaras, an 11th century or earlier system of water capture and distribution, is characteristic of the region and qualifies the site as a RAMSAR wetland type Zk(c) – “Karst and other subterranean hydrological systems, human-made”. The area is known for its ancient rock art, a small prehistory museum, and its Ksar or “fortress”, which was formerly the stronghold of the Sheik Bouamama, a key figure in the country’s fight against colonialism.

2. NAME / LOCATION / ACCESSIBILITY

  • Current denomination Moghrar (Foukani and Tahtani) and Tiout oases.
  • Current denomination Moghrar (Foukani and Tahtani) and Tiout oases.
  • Original denomination Moghrar (Foukani and Tahtani) and Tiout oases.
  • Popular denomination Moghrar (Foukani and Tahtani) and Tiout oases.
  • Address: Moghrar Tahtani, Foukani and Tiout oases are located in the south of Nâama province.
  • Geographical coordinates: 32°53'N 000°40'W 195,500 ha
  • Area, boundaries and surroundings: Moghrar Tahtani, Foukani and Tiout oases are located in the south of Nâama, Province. Moghrar is limited at North: Djebel Bou Amoud (1.692 m) and Djebel Cheracher (1.726 m), at East: Djebel Boulerhad (1.690 m), at South-East: Djebel El Haïmeur (1.337 m), at South: Le Djebel Touzamet (1.370m) . Tiout Oasis is 10 km east to Aïn Sefra.

3. LEGAL ISSUES

  • Owner: 90% of the oases land are private.
  • Body responsible for the maintenance: No details
  • Legal protection: The oases have not a legal protection, but the inhabitants and owners of the lands have been protecting the territory for centuries. There are some conservation measures proposed by the goverment in the National Plan of agricultural development (PNDAR) for the restoration of the foggara system and the ksars, but they are not implemented yet.

4. HISTORY

The area is known for its ancient rock art, a small prehistory museum, and its Ksar or “fortress”, which was formerly the stronghold of the Sheik Bouamama, a key figure in the country’s fight against colonialism.

5. GENERAL DESCRIPTION

5.1. Natural heritage

  • Heritage: Rural
  • Geography: Wetland
  • Site topography: Natural
  • Climate and environmental conditions: The area is dominated by the arid climate. Sirocco comes in summer, during 20-40 days. The humid period is less than 3 months. The anual precipitation is around 213 mm. The coldest temperature is -0,51 °C, and the hottest 43,33 °C. Oases have a microclimate specific in relation with the water presence and the vegetation.
  • Geological and Geographical characteristics: No details.
Water resources:
There are diferent types of water resources in the area: the gueltas (lakes) of the oases, some irregular rivers, etc.
Vegetation:

The flora composition comprises 22 families, 57 genus and 72 species. Composeae is the most important family, with 11 genus and 12 species, folowed by Gramineae with 8 genus and 9 species, Papilionaceae with 6 genus and 11 specie, Cruciferae with 5 genus and 6 species, Umbellipherae with 4 genus and 5 species, Chenopodiaceae with 4 genus and 6 species, Liliaceae with 3 genus and 4 species and Aizooaceae with 2 genus and 2 species.

Fauna:

Moghrar is ornithologically significant: Loxia curvirostra, Columba palumbus, Monticola solitarius, Merops aplaster, Upupa epops, Circaetus gallicus, Hieraetus fasciatus, Cypaetus barbatus, Alectoris spatzi, Lanius senator, Sylvia hortensis, Phylloscopus bonelli, Muscicapa striata, Clamator glandarius, Cuculus canorusand Streptopelia turtur. Also wild fauna as the antelope or the gazelle is found in this area.

Land uses and economical activities:
Farming of Date palm and other fruit trees, and shepherding.
Agricultural issues or other traditional productions and their effect on the landscape:
With the site's typically dry saharan climate, the oases support family agriculture, mainly the cultivation of date palms and vegetables at different levels of terraces, "feggous" and "Aghrass" are the date palms of excellent quality that are of conservation interest (H'mira, El Hartan and Feggous).
Summary of Landscapes values and characteristics:

This Lanscape comprises the two Oases Moghrar (Foukani and Tahtani) and the Oasis Tiout at about 1000m altitude, connected by the upper reaches of the Oued Namous and ringed by the southern flank of the Ksour mountains at about 1700m. With the site’s typically dry saharan climate, the oases support family agriculture, mainly the cultivation of date palms and vegetables at different levels of terraces, “feggous” and “Aghrass” are the date palms of excellent quality that are of conservation interest. Moghrar is ornithologically significant, with Common or Red Crossbill, woodpigeon, Blue Rock Thrush, among others. The existence of the fouggaras, an 11th century or earlier system of water capture and distribution, is characteristic of the region and qualifies the site as a RAMSAR wetland type Zk(c) – “Karst and other subterranean hydrological systems, human-made”. The area is known for its ancient rock art, a small prehistory museum, and its Ksar or “fortress”, which was formerly the stronghold of the Sheik Bouamama, a key figure in the country’s fight against colonialism.

5.2. Cultural Heritage

A) Related to current constructions, buildings and art pieces in general

Architectonical elements /Sculptures:

In this area there are Ksars that are constructed with local materials: mud, stones and palm wood.

In the case of gardens: original and current style:
It is not the case.
Man-made elements related to water management:
There are small ponds, aquifer, and irrigated lands with the foggaras system.
Domestic, industrial ensembles, energy related systems:

Foggaras system.

B) Related to ancient remains

  • Archaeological components:

    The area is known for its ancient rock art, a small prehistory museum, and its Ksar or “fortress”,

  • Traces in the environment of human activity: The oases and the man-made landscape (agriculture and foggara system) associated to them.
C) Related to intangible, social and spiritual values

  • Population, ethnic groups: Berber
  • Languages and dialects: Berber and Arabic

5.3. Quality

Condition: environmental/ cultural heritage degradation:
The oases in the Algerian Sahara illustrate effectively how human being has succeeded in surviving hostile conditions. Over the centuries, an efficient and sustainable irrigation system has been applied that has allowed the inhabitants of the oasis to live in conditions of extreme aridity while respecting the particular properties of these unstable ecosystems. The intensification of irrigated agriculture in this fragile environment contributes to the over-exploitation of natural resources. The inhabitants of the oases have to dig deeper wells and cultivate ever-increasing areas. They have introduced industrial products such as chemical fertilizers while gradually neglecting traditional knowledge. Natural erosion of the desert is also a risk for the survival of the oases.
Quality of the night sky, light pollution and possibility to observe the stars:
Oases are privileged sites to breath in silence, to find ourselves and to observe the pure beauty of nature, including the stars that are brighting in the night sky, free of light pollution.
Perspectives/Views/ Points of interest/Setting:

-Algerian desert, its beatiful and magical landscape. -All the oases and ksour mencionated in this report, including its cultivated lands, its palm fields, its lakes and water wells, and its architectonical and archaeological elements. -Foggaras system.

6. VALUES

Tangible

  • Aesthetic
  • Archaeological
  • Architectonical
  • Ethnological
  • Geological/Geographical
  • Living heritage
The main tangible values of Moghrar (Foukani and Tahtani) and Tiout oases. are: -Archaeological: There are some ancient remains and ksars in the region, also rock paintings. - Architectonical: Construction with local material: mood, stone and palm wood. -Ecological/Botanical: The special microclima of the oases provides a particular flora and fauna, domesticated and wild, typical from these sites. There are date palms of excellent quality that are of conservation interest: H'mira, El Hartan and Feggous. Moghrar is ornithologically significant, with Common or Red Crossbill, woodpigeon, Blue Rock Thrush, among others. -Geographical/Aesthetic: The Western Sand Sea and the oases themselves. -Living heritage, ethnological and others: The beauty and quality of the oases as a picture of human interaction with the desert, their botanical, agricultural-specially the palm fields and the foggaras system- and ethnological particularities. The existence of the fouggaras, an 11th century or earlier system of water capture and distribution, is characteristic of the region and qualifies the site as a RAMSAR wetland type Zk(c) - "Karst and other subterranean hydrological systems, human-made".

Intangible

  • Historical
  • Mythical
The main intangible values of Moghrar (Foukani and Tahtani) and Tiout oases and its cultural landscape are: -Historical: Its Ksar or "fortress" was formerly the stronghold of the Sheik Bouamama, a key figure in the country's fight against colonialism. -Mythical: An oasis could be considered (according to UNESCO) as an image of the garden of Eden. It is the practical expression of a mythical idea. -Social significance: Moghrar (Foukani and Tahtani) and Tiout oases, as the rest of oases comprised in this inventory, enjoys a unique cultural heritage and a society rich in native custom and tradition with social significance. The living heritage is composed of practices that are the result of slow, patient adaptation to the hostility of the environment and the scarcity of its resources. It also comprises representations and images of the human self and of the world devised through such permanent confrontation. In fact, confrontation with nature and the delicate balance that results from it is the very source of a precious intangible heritage for the identity and integrity of the populations of the region. Assuming that an order or hierarchy is possible, there is, first and foremost, the cosmogony, vision and explanation of the world which a religion (Islam, in this case) provides his passage on earth, his future and the paths he must follow. The intangible heritage thereby encompasses the most fundamental aspects of an identity culture and a living tradition: oral traditions, customs, languages, music, dance, rituals, festivities, traditional medicine and pharmacopoeia, the culinary arts, traditional skills (tools and dwellings) and arts and crafts. The latter are given expression by a series of objects of tangible culture (musical instruments, masks and costumes, etc.) often produced by skilled craftsmen who owe their know-how and the techniques used to their transmission from generation to generation, the art and manner of producing them are intangible. Moghrar (Foukani and Tahtani) and Tiout oases, as Touat, Gourara and Tidikelt Groups, are oases managed with the Foggaras system: man-made subterranean irrigation conduits. This system also made part of the social organization of the villages.
Authenticity:
The settlement in the region is quite ancient (there are ancient remains that come from the prehistoric period), and the area provides for several different cultures. This intermingling gave birth to a body of traditions and of cultural and hand-crafted practices that are still present today in the life of its inhabitants translating into a wealth of the folklore and cultural heritage.
Universality:
According to Med-O-Med considerations, taking in count the UNESCO criteria, Moghrar (Foukani and Tahtani) and Tiout oases achieve the following criteria: ii) To exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world. (iii) To bear na unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living, as the berber culture, and which has dissapeared, as prehistoric civilization. (v)The oases of Moghrar (Foukani and Tahtani) and Tiout, are an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement and land-use (with the foggaras system), which is representative of its culture and the human interaction with the environment. (vi) The territory is strongly connected with the berber traditions, their ideas, beliefs, and language. (x) Those sites contain important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including threatened species of date palms and birds of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation. Also, The RAMSAR Convention has classified these oases as a RAMSAR wetland type Zk(c) - "Karst and other subterranean hydrological systems, human-made", with the criteria: 1) The gueltas of the oases support a productive agriculture of date palms and fruit trees, using the foggaras irrigation system. The existence of the fouggaras, an 11th century or earlier system of water capture and distribution, is characteristic of the region and qualifies the site as a Cultural Landscape. 3) Moghrar (Foukani and Tahtani) and Tiout oases are wetlands very rich in biodiversity (flora and fauna). For example, there are three types of date palms (H'mira, El Hartan et Feggous), all of them threatened species, that are well preserved in this area.
Values linked to the Islamic culture and civilisation:
-Archaeological/Architectonical: There are some ancient remains, ksars and houses in the region that conserve the islamic style. -Historical: Its Ksar or "fortress" was formerly the stronghold of the Sheik Bouamama, a key figure in the country's fight against colonialism. -Living heritage, social significance and ethnological: the traditional way of irrigation (foggaras system). These are oases managed with the Foggara system: man-made subterranean irrigation conduits that come from the islamic culture. This system also made part of the social organization of the villages. this territory preserve ancient customs and traditional rites of berber culture. -Mythical and religious values: oases could be considered as a picture of the garden of Eden, of islamic culture.

7. ENCLOSURES

Historical and graphical data (drawings, paintings, engravings, photographs, literary items…):

Moghrar (Foukani and Tahtani) and Tiout oases are included in The Cultural Landscape inventory runned by Med-O-Med, in the Oases Section. In these oases is practiced the foggaras system. The same happens in Gourara, Tidikelt and Touat oases. They are all places to observe this system in good conditions.

Bibliography:

http://whc.unesco.org/venice2002 http://www.RAMSAR.org/cda/en/RAMSAR-documents-info/main/RAMSAR/1-31-59_4000_0__ http://RAMSAR.wetlands.org/Database/SearchforRAMSARsites/tabid/765/Default.aspx http://RAMSAR.wetlands.org/Portals/15/ALGERIA.pdf http://www.RAMSAR.org/cda/en/RAMSAR-pubs-notes-algeria-designates-13/main/RAMSAR/1-30-168%5E18863_4000_0__ -Alcaraz, C. (1976). Carte de la végétation de l’Algérie: Oran, Ech:1/500 000,1 f. -Alcaraz, C., 1976.- Recherches géobotaniques sur la végétation de l’ouest algérien. Bull. Soc. Hist. Nat. Afr.Nord, 60(1,2):19-36. -Couderc, R. (1972). Une région”marginale”: oasis et ksour de l’oranie mériddionale. Bull.Soc. Languedoc-Roussillon Géogr., 6(1):35-62. -Lauréano, P. (1991). Sahara jardin méconnu. PP 199. -Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. (2003). Fiche descriptive sur les zones humides RAMSAR. Les Oasis de Moghrar et Tiout, Wilaya de Nâama. -Ozenda, P. (1983). Flore du Sahara. PP 662. -Pons, A. and Quézel, P. (1955). Contribution à l’étude de la végétation des rochers maritimes du littoral de l’Algérie centrale et occidentale. Bull.Soc.Hist .Nat. Afr.Nord, 60(1,2): 19-36. -Prat, H. (1930). Influence des brouillards sur la végétation du Djebel Murdjadjo (Sahel d’Oran). Bull.Soc.Géogr. Arch.Oran, 329-335. -Quezel, P. and Santa, S. (1962-1963). Nouvelle flore de l’Algérie et du Sahara septentrional.C.N.R.S., Paris, 2vol., 1170p. -RAMSAR. (2013). The List of Wetlands of International Importance. -Sidi Boumedine, R. (2003). The Sahara of cultures and people: Towards a strategy for the sustainable development of tourism in the Sahara, in the context of combating poverty. UNESCO, Paris. -UNESCO. (2001). Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage. World Heritage Committee. 25 session. Helsinki, Finland. -UNESCO. (2002). Cultural Landscapes: the Challenges of Conservation. Associated Workshops, World Heritage. Ferrara – Italy

Practical Information:
RAMSAR LIST: Dr. Ammar Boumezbeur. Direction générale des forêts, Chemin Doudou Mokhtar, Ben Aknoun, Alger, Algérie. Telefax : (213-21) 91 52 86 et 91 53 14. Standard : 91 52 90 à 99 Email : boumezfr@yahoo.fr et dgf.dpff@wissal.dz Messieurs Ould Rabah Boudjemâa, Inspecteur divisionnaire, Kacemi Abdelkader, Chargé de la Circonscription des forêts de Aïn Sefra et Cherif Mohamed, Chef de service protection Conservation des forêts de Nâama, wilaya de Nâama. Benkhalifa Abderrahmane, URZA BP. 44, Alger Gare, 16000, Alger, Algérie. ENS BP. 92 Vieux Kouba, Alger, Algérie.

Compiler Data: Sara Martínez Frías.