VII. 36 Ichkeul National Park (Tunisia)
The Committee recalled that the site was included on the World Heritage List in 1980 and took note of the report presented by IUCN on threats to the site which was prepared in cooperation with the Ramsar Convention Secretariat. The report confirmed that the construction of dams had a devastating impact on the wetland values of Ichkeul National Park. The significant adverse environmental impact of the construction of two dams limiting the freshwater flow to the area was also described in a recent report by the Tunisian Ministry of the Environment. It also confirmed that the Park no longer supports the large migrating bird populations that it used to and the salinity of the lake and marshes has dramatically increased. In addition, structural problems remain, as the Park lacks sufficient infrastructure, budget and management.
The Committee was informed that the Bureau at its twentieth extraordinary session recalled debates held concerning inclusion of the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger beginning in 1985 and considered the possibility of an eventual deletion of this property from the World Heritage List. The Bureau discussed if a rehabilitation of the site is at all possible and requested the Secretariat to write immediately to the Tunisian authorities to (a) inform them about the Bureau's concerns, (b) to inform them about the Bureau's recommendation to include the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger, and (c) to inform them of the possible deletion of Lake Ichkeul from the World Heritage List if the integrity of the site is lost.
The Secretariat informed the Committee that the Tunisian authorities responded to the Secretariat's letter by fax of 3 December 1996 from the Minister for the Environment. He indicated that the situation had evolved since 1994 and that in 1995/96 rainfall has been high and that the salinity of the Lake was around 30grams/litre. He concluded that the Ichkeul ecosystem is not irreversibly lost and that the Committee should not consider a declassification of the site. The Committee took note of the information provided by the State Party.
The Committee decided to: (a) inscribe Ichkeul National Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger; (b) request the authorities to provide a programme of anticipated corrective measures to reverse the degradation of the site, and (c) inform the authorities of the possibilities of the deletion of the property from the World Heritage List if rehabilitation of the site would not be possible.