Restinga-Smir: site description
Morocco has developed a policy for the protection of sensitive biological sites; to-date a characterisation survey of the coast and inland areas identified sites of biological importance and scientific interest. The Smir lagoon was chosen as one of these sites, and is considered to be a site worthy of a pilot study to develop a management policy, to be utilised in the future, for the western Mediterranean.
The lagoon system is located on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco, north of the town M’dia and 30 Km south of the straits of Gibraltar. The system consists of a large natural lagoon (approx. 1.5 by 2.5 km) derived from the inferior course of the Smir Wadi (ephemeral stream) and its inundation zone. There is an outlet complex between the lagoon and the Mediterranean Sea across a sand beach system. A recreational marina has been developed in this outlet.
Smir Wadi brings freshwater to the lagoon, but a recently constructed dam upstream has reduced the freshwater flow and, consequently, sediment transport.
The lagoon is important for avian, epi-fauna and plant bio-diversity.
A series of salt marshes occur adjacent to its south and west flanks.
The sand beach system at the site is one of the few sand shore sections of the Mediterranean shores of Morocco.
The site is of high biological importance for the transit and wintering of Palearctic aquatic birds. To give an example, the severely threatened species Larus audoini regularly winters within the zone.