The Mediterranean Basin Hotspot
The Mediterranean Basin biodiversity hotspot is the second largest hotspot in the world, covering over 2 million km2, stretching from Portugal in the west Jordan in the east and from northern Italy in the north to Cape Verde in the south.
The Mediterranean Basin hotspot is the third richest hotspot in the world in terms of plant diversity with approximately 30,000 taxa, of which 13,000 are endemic (REF). This area is also very rich in terms of cultural, linguistic, historical and socioeconomic diversity. The region contains many balanced ecosystems, and human activities and local communities depend on these ecosystems for fresh water, food and a variety of other ecosystem services.
The Moroccan Hotspots
There are three principal areas of plant diversity in Morocco: the Atlas (High Atlas, Anti Atlas and Middle Atlas), Rif Mountains and coastal areas (part of the North Atlantic and part of the Middle Atlantic of Morocco). They host high species diversity, high endemism rates and the they are IUCN priority sites for conservation in the Mediterranean region. They correspond to identified biodiversity hotspots within the Mediterranean in terms of vegetation, i.e. the Atlas Mountains and the Riffian arc, stretching across northern Morocco and western Algeria which include the southern part of the Rif and the mountains of the Oriental region of Morocco.
The geographical distribution of the endemic Flora of Morocco draws attention to the High Atlas (HA) as the hotspot floristic region and the main home of endemic species in Morocco. Other high elevation floristic regions [Middle Atlas (MA), Anti Atlas (AA) and Rif (R)] also show a significant rate of endemics.
For these reasons, Morocco is a major contributor to the biodiversity of the Mediterranean Basin hotspot. The country contains two of the eleven areas designated in the Mediterranean biodiversity hotspots classification: the Moroccan Atlas (High Atlas, Anti Atlas and Middle Atlas) and the Rif mountains.