1.         Ichkeul National Park (Tunisia) (N 8)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1980

Criteria  (x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger   1996-2006

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Corrective measures identified

The World Heritage Committee at its 27th session (UNESCO, 2003), set the following benchmarks (27 COM 7A.8):

a) The reinforcement of the management structure for the Park; in particular the creation of an autonomous and permanent management structure, that takes into consideration the specificities of Ichkeul and the sustainability of its values, with appropriate decision making powers;

b) A guarantee in writing confirming that the State Party will consider the property as a water “consumer” and commit an annual water inflow into the lake of an average of 80-120 million cubic metres from upstream dams through water releases or overflow;

c) The establishment of a “Committee 21” for elaborating a local Agenda 21; and

d) Completion of a participatory management plan for the property under the GEF/World Bank funded project.

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/8/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1981-2002)
Total amount approved: USD 140,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/8/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

UNESCO/IUCN/Ramsar mission in 1999; IUCN/Ramsar mission in 2000; and IUCN mission in 2002.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Adverse impacts of dam construction;

b) Inadequate water flows for maintaining biological system;

c) Inadequate management structure;

d) No management plan. 

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/8/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2006

In a letter from the State Party dated 2 February 2006, the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development notes considerable progress in the regeneration of the Ichkeul ecosystems and requests that the property be removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger. The letter notes that the efforts of Tunisia in relation to water management and the implementation of a monitoring and research programme, combined with favourable climatic conditions, have allowed a large part of the property to recuperate the values for which the property was inscribed on the World Heritage List. The letter stresses that Ichkeul has been recognised as a net “consumer” of water within the “Plan Directeur des Eaux du Nord” and therefore Tunisia will ensure the annual release of a minimum amount of water required for the survival of the ecosystems. Finally, the State Party provides information on the participatory management plan that is currently being developed and on the GEF/World Bank project, which deals with three Tunisian national parks, also covering Ichkeul National Park and is planned for six years (2003-2008). The 2006 State Party report also includes the annual report of scientific monitoring for the Park for 2004-2005 prepared by ‘l’Agence Nationale de Protection de l’Environnement’ (ANPE). The report notes that in certain areas the ecosystem has returned to a state approaching that in the 1980s, and in particular that:

a) As was the case in the 2002/2003 winter, water releases from the dams in 2004/2005 were very high (at 345 million cubic metres) and equivalent to water flow from the catchment in times prior to the dams being built;

b) the high level of water for a long period resulted in very low levels of salinity as well as the flooding of almost the entirety of the marshes for extended periods;

c) there is ongoing development and recovery of pondweeds (Potamogeton pectinatus), Scirpus rushes and Phragmites reeds, which are critical to the entire ecosystem and indicators for recovery; and

d) a larger number of wintering water birds and nesting birds have returned, as well as fish and eels.

The report notes that the current regeneration of the ecosystem justifies the proposed management of water releases on a pluri-annual basis. It argues that variations of the environmental conditions have shaped the current ecosystem and that therefore a management which would maintain artificially the Ichkeul ecosystem in constant optimum conditions would not be consistent with the conservation objectives of the ecosystem.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the improvements of the state of conservation of this property, reflecting the third consecutive season of average or above-average rainfall with the release water from the dams to the Park and resulting in considerable regeneration of the ecosystems of Ichkeul National Park. It is expected, now that the dams are filled, that this regeneration will continue as long as regular flows of freshwater are guaranteed. Continued monitoring is essential and this appears to be assured under the ANPE and the GEF/World Bank supported project. The State Party is commended for the very professional and detailed scientific monitoring and reporting carried out by ANPE and Tunisian university bodies to date.

The important progress in the rehabilitation of the property is acknowledged. However, the decision whether or not to take the property off the List of World Heritage in Danger should be based on the extent to which the benchmarks set by the World Heritage Committee at its 27th session have been met. IUCN considers that not all benchmarks have been adequately met at this point. In particular, progress on management issues, including the creation of an autonomous and permanent management structure and the development of the participatory management plan is not yet complete. Two agencies, the ANPE and the Forestry Department, currently have a role in managing and monitoring the Park and there is a need to ensure a permanent, harmonised structure, with clear decision-making processes. The role of joint programming, monitoring of implementation and coordination is currently fulfilled by the project management team that was created for the GEF project and groups the different stakeholders. The report of the State Party notes that this structure will be continued after the end of the project to ensure implementation of the management plan of the Park. IUCN notes that appropriate management arrangements for the property, to be undertaken by the Forestry Department, are critical for the conservation of its universal values and look forward to assessing the completed management arrangements under the GEF project when these become available.

The State Party has also not yet committed to a specific amount of water flow into the Park. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that further discussion is required in relation to this specific benchmark. Following the request of the State Party to remove the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, a joint IUCN / UNESCO mission is planned for May 2006, which will allow further discussions on this issue. The outcomes of this mission will be presented during the 30th session of the World Heritage Committee (Vilnius, 2006), and a revised draft Decision could be proposed to take account of the conclusions.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 30 COM 7A.12

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-06/30 COM/7A,

2. Recalling Decisions 27 COM 7A.8 and 29 COM 7A.8, adopted at its 27th (UNESCO, 2003) and 29th (Durban, 2005) sessions respectively,

3. Thanks the State Party for hosting the IUCN/UNESCO monitoring mission to the property from 31 May to 2 June 2006;

4. Recognises that there has been considerable progress in recent years in the rehabilitation of the property, with improved water quality leading toward the restoration of vegetation critical to the functioning of the ecosystem, the gradual return of wintering and breeding birds, though not yet to former numbers at the time of inscription on the World Heritage List, and the recovery of fish populations;

5. Congratulates the State Party for its strong commitment to the conservation of the property and in particular for putting in place a high quality scientific monitoring programme that contributes to regular reporting on progress;

6. Notes that the State Party is currently updating the hydrological model of the property originally developed under the BCEOM project, in order to asses the potential impacts of the three new proposed dams on the property;

7. Considers that on-going work is still required to guarantee the maintenance and restoration the values for which the property was inscribed on the World Heritage List and ensure its effective long term management;

8. Requests the State Party to implement the recommendations of the 2006 IUCN/UNESCO monitoring mission in the same positive spirit by which previous recommendations have been implemented;

9. Thanks the State Party for its commitment to regard Ichkeul National Park as a net consumer of water, and requests it to continue implementing this policy taking account of the need for occasional surges of water to flush out any concentrations of salt;

10. Encourages the State Party to seek funding support from the World Heritage Fund for a workshop in early winter 2006/07, in collaboration with IUCN and the World Heritage Centre, to discuss the draft management plan for the property and the application of the mission's recommendations;

11. Requests the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre with an updated report by the 1 February 2007 on the state of conservation of the property and particularly on:

a) The establishment of an integrated and autonomous management structure with decision-making powers and financial support for its effective work;

b) The finalization and adoption of the management plan, taking into account the status conferred to the property as a World Heritage property, the conclusions of the hydrological model update and the establishment of a local Agenda 21 committee in order to raise awareness of the park in the broader catchments;

12. Decides to remove Ichkeul National Park (Tunisia) from the List of World Heritage in Danger;

13. Iterates that if there is no continued satisfactory progress, the property shall be re-inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger at its 31st session in 2007.

Decision Adopted: 30 COM 8C.3

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-06/30.COM/7A and WHC-06/30.COM/7A.Add.Rev),

2. Decides to remove the following properties from the List of World Heritage in Danger:

   • Algeria, Tipasa (Decision 30 COM 7A.18)

   • Germany, Cologne Cathedral (Decision 30 COM 7A.30)

   • India, Groups of Monuments at Hampi (Decision 30 COM 7A.24)

   • Senegal, Djoudj Bird Sanctuary (Decision 30 COM 7A.11)

   • Tunisia, Ichkeul National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.12)