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

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

1999: World Heritage Centre / IUCN / Ramsar mission; 2000: IUCN / Ramsar mission; 2002: IUCN mission; June 2006: World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission

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.; 

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2010

On 16 February 2010 the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of Ichkeul National Park, providing detailed information on the implementation of several of the remaining recommendations of the 2006 reactive monitoring mission, as well as an update on the property’s management structure, the implementation of the management plan, water resource management, scientific monitoring, eco-tourism and community outreach activities. However, the report does not consider two of the 2006 mission’s recommendations relating to water management, including an assessment of the effects of the construction of three additional planned dams on the property and whether, during dry winters, water resources can/ are made available from Sidi Dam.

a) Management structure and implementation of the five-year participatory management plan

The State Party reports significant progress towards the establishment of an adequate management structure for the property with sufficient decision-making power and financial autonomy. As a first step, a Scientific Management Committee for Ichkeul National Park was established in 2007. Currently, the State Party is preparing a decree seeking to modify national park regulations. This decree would, if approved, consolidate the property’s management structure, as well as that of Tunisia’s other national parks, by specifying the park manager’s position and necessary qualifications, requiring the establishment of a Scientific Management Committee, allowing co-management in cooperation with the private sector, and setting an entrance fee to supplement autonomous financing. Concerning the five-year participatory management plan for the property, the State Party provides details on the outcomes of all activities undertaken since January 2008 in an annex to the state of conservation report, many of which have significantly contributed to the further restoration of the property’s values.

b) Water management

The State Party recalls that water resources are an essential element of the management of the property. The hydrological model created in 1996 to predict hydrological conditions and water needs has recently been updated and continues to facilitate water resource management. The report also notes that significant progress has been made towards centralising all data for the property within a Microsoft Access database, which will gradually be populated with scientific data collected over the last fifteen years.

The State Party reports that in accordance with the Tunisian Government’s recognition of the property as a net water user, significant volumes of water have been released to Ichkeul since 2002/ 2003. The average yearly water volume reaching the property is 140Mm3, with a minimum of 6 Mm3 provided during the winter of 2007/ 2008, and 94 Mm3 during 2008/ 2009. Manipulation of the Tinja sluice, which is the key mechanism controlling inputs of freshwater into Ichkeul’s aquatic ecosystem, has been crucial to managing water levels within the property during periods of drought. The State Party further reports that a project concerning integrated management of water resources in the Ichkeul watershed began in 2009 as part of a wider regional Wetlands International programme to engage civil society in the preservation of Mediterranean wetlands through participatory management and dialogue between various water users.

c) Scientific monitoring

The State Party reports the results of scientific monitoring over the last two years, which confirm the restoration of the property’s ecosystem to a level comparable with the state of conservation at the time of inscription. This is despite the low water levels in 2007/ 2008, which were inferior to one-fifth the annual average water levels, and the late arrival of water resources in 2009/ 2010. The State Party notes that the number of overwintering birds and waterfowl is comparable to records at the time of inscription.

d) Restoration of the Joumine River and other key conservation activities

The State Party reports that the restoration of the Joumine River, a recommendation of the 2006 mission, was completed in the summer of 2008. This restoration enabled water to flow back into the Joumine marsh and resulted in significant regeneration of Scirpus rushes, which are an important for overwintering birds.

The State Party also reports on other key management activities between 2007 and 2010 which have contributed to restoring and preserving the property’s lake, marshlands and associated fauna and flora including: i) installation of a metal barrier in the integral protection zone and the marshes covered by the management plan, which has allowed the recovery of Scirpus rushes; ii) creation of artificial grasslands covering 122ha in order to allow cattle grazing, which has been prescribed in the integral protection zone of the property; iii) closure of the El Hawya cave to protect its bat population.

e) Eco-tourism, Agenda 21 and community outreach

The State Party reports that a number of activities have been undertaken over the last two years to improve the property’s tourism infrastructure. A number of community livelihood projects have been implemented to support the local population. The State Party further notes that community outreach activities targeted at both the local population and the wider public has been undertaken, including school visits to the property, television advertisements, and knowledge transfer from Ichkeul National Park staff, to Tunisia’s other national parks. The State Party also indicates that the Agenda 21 process for the town of Tinja was halted in 2008 in order to harmonise its activities with a recently initiated rural-urban integrated development programme, but notes that this process is currently being renewed.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN commend the State Party’s significant achievements in restoring the values and integrity of the property, and welcome the recent restoration of the Joumine River, which has greatly contributed to its ecological recovery. While the great majority of the Committee’s recommendations have been or are being realised, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the State Party has yet to provide information concerning the three additional dams proposed for the Melah, Doumis and Tine streams and recall that in 2006 the Tunisian water management authorities agreed that these future dams would provide water resources to the property, rather than to agricultural irrigation. The State Party is encouraged to provide an update on the status of these three proposed dams to the World Heritage Centre in the course of 2010 as well as an Environmental Impact Assessment.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that the World Heritage Committee encourage the State Party to continue its efforts to consolidate the Ichkeul National Park’s autonomous management structure, and to increase the role of the Ichkeul Scientific Management Committee, which is essential to the long-term sustainable management of the property’s recently regained values and integrity. While the establishment of such management structures can be slow, it is clear that there is political will on the part of the State Party to better organise and manage not only Ichkeul National Park, but all of its Protected Areas.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 34 COM 7B.9

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 32 COM 7B.7 adopted at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008),

3. Commends the State Party for its significant achievements in restoring the Outstanding Universal Value, including the conditions of integrity, of the property and welcomes the recent restoration of the Joumine River, which has greatly contributed to the property's ecological recovery;

4. Notes the progress made by the State Party towards consolidating the property's autonomous management structure, which is essential to the long-term sustainable management of its recently regained values and integrity, and encourages the State Party to continue with these efforts and to increase the role and activities of the Ichkeul Scientific Management Committee;

5. Also encourages the State Party to rapidly repair the lake breach that occurred in April 2009, and to restore the Agenda 21 process;

6. Requests the State Party to submit any Environmental Impact Assessments for the additional dams proposed for the Melah, Doumis and Tine streams to the World Heritage Centre in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and to ensure that these dams provide an adequate water supply to the property;

7. Also requests the State Party to keep the World Heritage Centre informed regarding significant developments with respect to the above issues, considering the requirements of Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and to give particular attention to these issues in their contribution to the periodic reporting process.

Decision Adopted: 34 COM 8E

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/8E,

2. Adopts the retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value, as presented in the Annex I of Documents WHC-10/34.COM/8E, WHC-10/34.COM/8E.Add and WHC-10/34.COM/8E.Add.2 for the following World Heritage properties: 

3. Decides that retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in Danger will be reviewed in priority;

4. Further decides that, considering the high number of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value to be examined, the order in which they will be reviewed will follow the Second Cycle of Periodic Reporting, namely: