Hodna, Algeria – Yann Arthus-Bertrand Photography
In northeast Algeria, the Hodna Mountains run parallel to the coast, reaching 6,200 ft (1,890 m). The area is essentially dedicated to agriculture and sheep farming. Market gardening, fruit trees, wheat, grapes, and olives occupy these small plots of land. The cedar and oak forests and olive groves that once stood on these slopes are now sparse, leaving a soil worn by erosion and overgrazing. In 150 years, Algeria has lost nearly 40 percent of its forests. Hot, dry summers alternate with harsh winters in the semiarid continental climate of these mountains. Annual precipitation levels reach 28 to 40 in (71 to 102 cm). In early 2005, a rare and heavy snowfall covered the region. According to inhabitants, it was the most significant snowfall in sixty years—a paradox when global warming is at the forefront of international concerns. But meteorologists insist that these extreme phenomena do not belie global warming. In the long term, they predict premature melting of snow in the high mountains and a drastic drop in snowfall in medium-height mountains.