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; March 2000: joint IUCN / 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 2000

Summary of previous deliberations:
Twenty-third session of the Committee – paragraph number – X.11
Twenty-third ordinary session of the Bureau – paragraph number – IV.10

New information: A four-person team representing IUCN, Ramsar Convention and other international and regional organisations visited the site from 28 February to 4 March 2000. The team reviewed the monitoring programmes currently in place and considered additional parameters and indicators that need to be included in an expanded programme to monitor the effectiveness of the rehabilitation measures currently being implemented by the State Party. The report of the mission team has been submitted to the State Party for comments and observations.

The mission team concluded that the Ichkeul National Park would have to be retained in the List of World Heritage in Danger for a considerable number of years before a thorough assessment of the effectiveness of the rehabilitation programme currently being put in place by the Tunisian Government is feasible. There are several positive signs that indicate that the potential for the effective rehabilitation of the lakes and the marshes still exists. For example, germination tests have been carried out on seeds of Potamogeton collected in the sediments of the zone occupied by beds of this plant before 1996 (western part of the lake).  These laboratory tests, carried out under optimal salinity conditions for germination, were successful and proved that the lake still maintains its potential to reconstitute the beds of Potamogeton which have currently been replaced by beds of Ruppia sp.  The same is true for the restoration of rushes over large areas of marsh several years after the disappearance of the plants; they reappear when marshes are flooded during the right period for germination and also in pools of rainwater in little depressions.

In respect of establishing a programme for monitoring the effectiveness of the rehabilitation programme, the mission team recommended that the National Agency for Environmental Protection (ANPE): (a) maintain the current programme for monitoring water quality and quantity; (b) introduce a new component to monitor the development of bathymetry of the lake; (c) maintain the current programme of monitoring the submerged flora, and extend it further by strengthening the monitoring team through the recruitment of specialized multidisciplinary staff ; (d) initiate a monitoring programme for the flora of the marshes; (e) improve the monitoring of bird populations by targeting key-indicator species and by setting up an institution with the ability to collect, store, analyse and check the ornithological data, and by training the necessary staff ; and (f) introduce a programme to monitor the flora and fauna of the mountain, particularly with a view to detecting changes in grazing pressure due to domestic stock.

The mission team has suggested that the integrated management plan for the Park and its surrounding area be updated and improved using the Ramsar Guidelines on management planning for wetlands. Furthermore, the team has recommended the establishment of an institutional structure with the means and powers necessary for the implementation of this integrated management plan.

The mission team identified the implementation of three urgent measures : (a) restoration of the Joumine marsh; (b) studies on the siltation of the lake; and (c) consideration of water releases from the dams in the spring of 2000. Furthermore, the mission team has encouraged that the data gathered and analysed so far for the safeguarding of the Ichkeul National Park be published in an appropriate scientific journal.

Action Required

The Bureau, based on the State Party’s observations and comments on the mission report, due to be submitted at the time of its twenty-fourth ordinary session, may wish to make appropriate decisions thereupon.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2000

IUCN has informed the Centre that rainfall during the winter of 1999 and the spring of 2000  in the Ichkeul area has been below average and hence salinity levels in the Lake have increased once again. Following two winters of adequate rainfall that allowed recovery of the freshwater vegetation, this reversal in rainfall patterns has led to a renewed increase in the salinity of Lake waters that prevailed in the area in 1997 and benefits of the restoration of the Lake achieved during the last two years are in danger of being lost. Despite the fact that such unpredictable climate-induced reversals will happen in the future as well, IUCN believes and reiterates the recommendations of the mission to the site undertaken in March 2000 by a team comprising representatives from IUCN, the Ramsar Convention Secretariat and other international and regional orgnaisations:

·         Updating of the integrated management plan for the site, with the involvement of all concerned interest groups.  This plan should outline an action plan to address key threats to the Park and ensure that resources are made available to implement this plan;

·         Implementation of an effective institutional arrangement for the management of the Park, which has strong support at all levels and a clear mandate for managing the site;

·         Urgent attention to the priority issues identified by the mission team, including: (a) restoration of the Joumine Marsh; (b) problems caused by siltation of the lake; and (c) the possibility of releasing the water in the immediate future; 

·         Development of a clear and focused monitoring and assessment programme that would supply data to all concerned groups and the scientific community in an efficient  and open manner; and

·         Development of a clear timetable of activities leading to measurable improvements of the Lake and surrounding marshes within the next five years.

The State Party has not submitted its report, as requested by the twenty-fourth ordinary session of the Bureau, describing its response to the conclusions and recommendations of the March 2000 mission. A State Party representative is expected to deliver a presentation at the Centre/IUCN workshop on the "Role of World Heritage in Danger Listing in Promoting International Co-operation for the Conservation of World Natural Heritage", in Amman, Jordan, during 6-7 October 2000. Centre and IUCN staff who will participate in the workshop will discuss the findings of the March 2000 mission with the Tunisian representative and obtain his views on the mission's conclusions and recommendations.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 24 BUR IV.A.12

The Bureau was informed that a four-person team representing IUCN, the Ramsar Convention and other international and regional organisations, visited the site from 28 February to 4 March 2000. The team reviewed the monitoring programmes currently in place and considered additional parameters and indicators that need to be included in an expanded programme to monitor the effectiveness of the rehabilitation measures currently being implemented by the State Party. The report of the mission team has been submitted to the State Party for comments.

The mission concluded that Ichkeul National Park would have to be retained in the List of World Heritage in Danger for a considerable number of years before a thorough assessment of the effectiveness of the rehabilitation programme currently being put in place by the Tunisian Government is feasible. There are several positive signs that indicate that the potential for the effective rehabilitation of the lakes and the marshes still exists. For example, germination tests have been carried out on seeds of Potamogeton collected in the sediments of the zone occupied by beds of this plant before 1996 (western part of the lake).  These laboratory tests, carried out under optimal salinity conditions for germination, were successful and proved that the lake still maintains its potential to reconstitute the beds of Potamogeton which have currently been replaced by beds of Ruppia sp.  The same is true for the restoration of rushes over large areas of marsh several years after the disappearance of the plants as they reappear when marshes are flooded during the right period for germination and also in pools of rain water in little depressions.

In respect of establishing a programme for monitoring the effectiveness of the rehabilitation programme, the mission team recommended that the National Agency for Environmental Protection (ANPE): (a) maintain the current programme for monitoring water quality and quantity; (b) introduce a new component to monitor the development of bathymetry of the lake; (c) maintain the current programme of monitoring the submerged flora, and extend it further by strengthening the monitoring team through the recruitment of specialized multidisciplinary staff; (d) initiate a monitoring programme for the flora of the marshes; (e) improve the monitoring of bird populations by targeting key-indicator species and by setting up an institution with the ability to collect, store, analyse and check the ornithological data, and by training the necessary staff; and (f) introduce a programme to monitor the flora and fauna of the mountain, particularly with a view to detecting changes in grazing pressure due to domestic stock.

The mission team suggested that the integrated management plan for the Park and its surrounding area be updated and improved, using the Ramsar Guidelines on management planning for wetlands. Furthermore the team has recommended the establishment of an institutional structure with the means and powers necessary to implement this integrated management plan.

The mission team identified the need for implementation of three urgent measures: (a) restoration of the Joumine marsh; (b) studies on the siltation of the lake; and (c) consideration of water releases from the dams in the spring of 2000. Furthermore, the mission team encouraged that the data gathered and analysed so far for the safeguarding of the Ichkeul National Park be published in an appropriate scientific journal.

The Bureau commended the efforts of the State Party to set up a systematic monitoring programme for Ichkeul and invited the State Party to consider the recommendations of the mission with regard to continuing certain aspects of the on-going programme, as well as adding new elements to it. The Bureau drew the attention of the State Party to the need to urgently restore the Joumine marsh, undertake studies on the siltation of the lake, and initiate water releases from the dams. The Bureau emphasised the need to develop adequate institutional capacity to implement the activities linked to the systematic monitoring programme that is likely to be implemented over a period of several years. The Bureau invited the State Party to submit a report to the Centre, before 15 September 2000, describing its response to the recommendations of the mission and the steps it has taken to implement the three urgent measures so that the report could be reviewed by the twenty-fourth session of the Committee. The Bureau agreed with the point of view expressed by the Moroccan Delegate that the State Party needs to be given all the encouragement possible to restore the site and that the results of the efforts to restore Ichkeul could set a precedent for monitoring the state of conservation of similar sites and restoration efforts elsewhere.   The Bureau recommended that the Committee retain this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 24 COM VIII.13

VIII.13 Ichkeul National Park (Tunisia)

The Committee was informed that following two winters of adequate rainfall that allowed recovery of the freshwater vegetation, reversal in rainfall patterns has led to a renewed increase in the salinity of Lake waters, resembling levels that prevailed in the area in 1997 and as such, the benefits of the restoration of the Lake achieved during the last two years are in danger of being lost. Such unpredictable, climate-induced reversals are likely to happen in the future. Nevertheless, the Committee stressed the need to fully implement the recommendations of a mission to the site undertaken in March 2000 by a team comprising representatives from IUCN, the Ramsar Convention Secretariat and other international and regional organisations described in document WHC-2000/CONF.204/9. A representative of the State Party who participated at the Centre/IUCN Workshop in Amman, Jordan from 6 to 7 October 2000, also emphasised the importance of implementing the recommendations of the March 2000 mission team.

The Committee recommended that the State Party take all necessary steps to implement, as expeditiously as possible, the recommendations of the mission team that visited the site in March 2000. The Committee highlighted, in particular, the importance of the development of a clear timetable of activities leading to measurable improvements of the Lake and surrounding marshes within the next five years. The Committee requested the Centre to contact the State Party once again to obtain a formal written response to the recommendations proposed by the mission team that  visited the site in March 2000. The Committee retained this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger.