Density, Spatial Pattern and Relief Features of Sacred Sites in Northern Morocco
Sacred sites are of conservation value because of their spiritual meaning, as cultural heritage and as remnants of near-natural biotopes in landscapes strongly transformed by man. The vegetation of sacred sites in Morocco was studied recently. Information about their number, spatial pattern or relief position is fragmentary. However, these parameters are important to evaluate their role as refuge for organisms and their representativeness of potential natural vegetation.
Therefore, density and spatial pattern of sacred sites on the Tangier Peninsula in NW Morocco were studied based on records on topographic maps and by ground check. Their relief position was examined calculating a logistic regression model based on site-presences and random pseudo-absences.
A ground check showed that around 67% of the existing sacred sites are documented in the topographic maps. They occur in the whole study area but are agglomerated around settlements. Although sacred sites occur with preference at elevated sites they can be found in almost all relief positions, thus offering the potential of supporting different types of climax vegetation (climatic climax and pedoclimax). Because of their abundance (around 29 sacred sites / 100 skm) and their distribution pattern they could serve as elements of a biotope network in degraded landscapes.
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