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-present

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

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1981-1991)
Total amount approved: USD 90,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/8/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

January 1997: RAMSAR mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

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

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1998

In 1996, the Committee decided to inscribe Ichkeul on the List of World Heritage in Danger and requested the Tunisian authorities to provide a programme of corrective measures to reverse the degradation of the site and alerted them to the possibility of the deletion of Ichkeul from the World Heritage List, if rehabilitation of the site were not possible. The Bureau at its twenty-first session recommended that the Committee establish a three-year time table to review efforts of the restoration of Ichkeul and, in the meantime, retain the site in the List of the World Heritage in Danger. On 14 October 1997 a "Report on the action programme for the safeguarding of Ichkeul National Park" was provided by the "Ministere de l'environnement et de l'amenagement du territoire" and was transmitted to IUCN and the Ramsar Convention Secretariat for review. IUCN informed the Committee at its last session that this report does not provide a sufficient response to the recommendations of the Ramsar mission indicated above and that the serious threats to the integrity of the site are not adequately addressed. The Committee decided to retain Ichkeul in the List of World Heritage in Danger and requested the Centre to write a letter urging the State Party to implement the recommendations of the Ramsar mission and submit a threat-mitigation status report to the twenty-third session of the Committee, in 1999.

IUCN informed the Centre that it has received additional information from the Mediterranean Wetlands Programme (MedWet). Although this winter has brought better than average rain, the situation in the Park is not improving.  As previously noted the ecosystem has been substantially transformed since the dams were constructed. Water salinity now fluctuates between 40 and 70g/l rather tan the previous 5-35g/l. Large areas of aquatic monophytes have disappeared, replaced by marine species. The sluice gates to and from the lake which are supposed to regulate exchanges with the sea have not been completed. The situation is aggravated by the fresh water crisis in the country and the diversion of water from the Park will likely be of even higher priority in the future. IUCN in its report underlines that at its last two sessions Committee members suggested that Ichkeul no longer has the values for which it was inscribed and should be removed from the World Heritage List. In the absence of satisfactory corrective measures to restore the site, IUCN reluctantly and sadly agrees that this action is now warranted.

Action Required

The Bureau may wish to consider the appropriate action in accordance with paragraphs 46-52 and 82-89 of the Operational Guidelines.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1998

The Committee inscribed Ichkeul National Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1996 and requested the Tunisian authorities to provide a programme of corrective measures to reverse the degradation of the site. At its twenty-second ordinary session (June 1998), the Bureau received a report from IUCN, which provided technical data to indicate that the salinity of the water in the lake may have reached excessively high proportions and that the chances for the recovery of the World Heritage values of the site may be fast receding. IUCN expressed its concern at the slow pace and the effectiveness of the implementation of the rehabilitation programme by the State Party.

The Observer of Tunisia informed the Bureau of several measures undertaken by his Government to retain freshwater in the lakes on a year-round basis and thereby reduce salinity of the lake. He also described other measures taken for providing: (i) irrigation and water supply needs of people; (ii) economic incentives to reduce the dependence of the people on the resources of the nearby mountain which constitutes part of an area from where the waters drain into the lake; and (iii) monitoring the number of migratory birds arriving at Ichkeul during the European winter. The Observer disagreed with some of the data presented by IUCN to the Bureau.

The Bureau recommended that the Committee retain this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger and expressed its concerns regarding the feasibility of effectively rehabilitating this site. The Bureau urged the State Party to take all necessary measures to ensure rapid and effective implementation of the programme for rehabilitating Ichkeul. The Bureau requested the Centre to co-operate with the State Party to field an expert mission to the site to undertake a thorough review of the state of conservation of the site. The Bureau noted the observation made by one of its members that the original nomination of Ichkeul, submitted in 1979, lacked adequate baseline data for evaluating the outcome of the programme of rehabilitation currently underway. The Bureau therefore recommended that the experts establish the necessary baseline data and information, and prepare a report on the adequacy of conservation measures undertaken and, if necessary, propose additional measures that may be needed for the conservation of the site. It also recommended the preparation of a statement of significance on the World Heritage values of the site, which could provide a framework for an objective evaluation of the success or failure of the rehabilitation programme currently being implemented by the State Party.

The Bureau’s intention in suggesting an expert mission was to give due consideration to the possibility for developing an improved rehabilitation programme for Ichkeul and retain its status as a World Heritage site. The Bureau recommended that the Committee allow time for the implementation of the programme and reiterated its recommendation that the State Party submit a comprehensive report on the results of the implementation of the rehabilitation programme to the twenty-third session of the Committee in 1999.

IUCN has informed the Centre that it will continue monitoring the progress in the rehabilitation of Ichkeul in close co-operation with the Ramsar Convention Secretariat and the Mediterranean Wetlands Programme (MedWet) in anticipation of a site visit in 1999.

By letter received on 21 September, the Ambassador of Tunisia to UNESCO invited an expert mission to be organized in the second half of December 1998.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 22 BUR V.A.11

The Bureau recalled that the Committee inscribed Ichkeul on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1996 and requested the Tunisian authorities to provide a programme of corrective measures to reverse the degradation of the site. It alerted them to the possibility of the deletion of Ichkeul from the World Heritage List, if rehabilitation of the site were not possible. Following discussions on a "Report on the action programme for the safeguarding of Ichkeul National Park", submitted by the "Ministère de l'environnement et de l'aménagement du territoire", which had been critically reviewed by IUCN and the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, the Committee, at its last session, urged the State Party to implement the recommendations of a Ramsar mission undertaken earlier in 1997 and submit a threat-mitigation status report to the twenty-third session of the Committee, in 1999.

The Bureau received a report from IUCN, which provided technical data to indicate that the salinity of the water in the lake may have reached excessively high proportions and that the chances for the recovery of the World Heritage values of the site may be fast receding. IUCN expressed its concern at the pace and the effectiveness of the implementation of the rehabilitation programme by the State Party.

The Bureau was informed by the Observer of Tunisia of several measures undertaken by his Government to retain freshwater in the lakes on a year-round basis and thereby reduce salinity of the lake. In particular, he spoke in detail of the repairs done to sluice gates controlling the entry of fresh water into the lake, and the supply of fresh water from a newly constructed reservoir to the lake to strengthen the lake’s conservation, as well as providing irrigation and water supply needs of people, and several economic incentives to reduce the dependence of the people on the resources of the nearby mountain which constitutes part of an area from where the waters drain into the lake. The Observer of Tunisia also pointed out that his Government was closely monitoring the number of migratory birds arriving at Ichkeul during the European winter in order to assess the extent to which Ichkeul continues to retain its value as a site of international importance for migratory birds. The Observer also disagreed with some of the data presented by IUCN to the Bureau.

The Bureau recommended that the Committee retain this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger and expressed its concerns regarding the feasibility of effectively rehabilitating this site. The Bureau urged the State Party to take all necessary measures to ensure rapid and effective implementation of the programme for rehabilitating Ichkeul The Bureau recommended that the Committee allow time for the implementation of the programme and reiterated its recommendation that the State Party submit a comprehensive report on the results of the implementation of the rehabilitation programme to the twenty-third session of the Committee in 1999.

Furthermore, the Bureau requested the Centre to co-operate with the State Party to field an expert mission to the site, similar to the one organised to the Galapagos in 1995, to undertake a thorough review of the state of conservation of the site. The Bureau noted the observation made by one of its members that the original nomination of Ichkeul, submitted in 1979, lacked adequate baseline data for evaluating the outcome of the programme of rehabilitation currently underway. The Bureau therefore recommended that the expert mission establish the necessary baseline data and information, and prepare a report on the adequacy of conservation measures undertaken and propose additional measures that may be needed for the conservation of the site. It also recommended the preparation of a statement of significance on the World Heritage values of the site, which could provide a framework for an objective evaluation of the success or failure of the rehabilitation programme currently being implemented by the State Party. In the event it is determined that the rehabilitation programme has failed to restore Ichkeul’s World Heritage values, steps for the eventual deletion of Ichkeul from the World Heritage List should be set in motion, as per paragraphs 89(iii) and 50(d) of the Operational Guidelines. However, the Bureau’s intention in suggesting an expert mission was based on the intention to give equal consideration to the possibility for developing an improved rehabilitation programme for Ichkeul and retain its status as a World Heritage site.

Decision Adopted: 22 COM VII.11/13

VII.11 Ichkeul National Park (Tunisia)

The Committee inscribed Ichkeul National Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1996 and requested the Tunisian authorities to provide a programme of corrective measures to reverse the degradation of the site. The Committee was informed that the Bureau, at its twenty-second ordinary session (June 1998), received a report from IUCN, which provided technical data to indicate that the salinity of the water in the lake may have reached excessively high proportions and that the chances of recovery of the World Heritage values of the site may be fast receding. IUCN expressed its concern at the slow pace and effectiveness of the implementation of the rehabilitation programme by the State Party.

The Committee noted that the Observer of Tunisia had informed the Bureau of several measures undertaken by his Government to retain freshwater in the lakes on a year-round basis and thereby reduce salinity of the lake. He had described other measures taken for providing: (i) irrigation and water supply needs of the population; (ii) economic incentives to reduce the dependence on the resources of the nearby mountain which constitutes part of an area from where the waters drain into the lake; and (iii) monitoring the number of migratory birds in Ichkeul during the European winter. The Observer of Tunisia had disagreed with some of the data presented by IUCN to the Bureau.

The Committee noted that the Bureau, while being concerned regarding the feasibility of effectively rehabilitating this site and urging the State Party to take all necessary measures to ensure rapid and effective implementation of the programme for rehabilitating Ichkeul, had also recommended an expert mission to the site. The intention of the Bureau in recommending such an expert mission was to give due consideration to the possibility for developing an improved rehabilitation programme for Ichkeul and retain its status as a World Heritage site. The Committee agreed with the Bureau's suggestion that the State Party needs to be allowed sufficient time for the implementation of the rehabilitation programme. The Committee noted that the State Party has already invited an expert mission to visit the site in the second half of December 1998.

The Committee decided to retain Ichkeul National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger and requested the Centre and IUCN to co-operate with the State Party to field the expert mission as soon as possible. The Committee recommended that the Centre and IUCN ensure that the expert mission (i) establish the baseline data and information necessary for evaluating the effectiveness of rehabilitation measures which are being currently implemented; (ii) prepare a report on the adequacy of conservation and rehabilitation measures; and (iii) if necessary, propose additional measures that may be needed for the conservation of the site. The Committee requested the Centre to submit a report of the expert mission for review by the twentythird session of the Bureau, and invited the State Party to provide a comprehensive report on the results of the implementation of the rehabilitation measures to the twenty-third session of the Committee, in 1999.