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Ichkeul National Park

Tunisia
Factors affecting the property in 2001*
  • Air pollution
  • Erosion and siltation/ deposition
  • Livestock farming / grazing of domesticated animals
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Subsistence hunting
  • Water (rain/water table)
  • Water infrastructure
  • Other Threats:

    Excessive salinity of the water

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Construction of dams;
  • Hunting;
  • Grazing,
  • Air pollution;
  • Problems caused by siltation of the lake;
  • Need to update the integrated management plan for the site
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2001
Requests approved: 3 (from 1981-1991)
Total amount approved : 90,000 USD
1991 Consultancy, equipment, design and construction costs ... (Approved)   40,000 USD
1989 Financial contribution to the preparation of exhibits ... (Approved)   20,000 USD
1981 Study on Ichkeul National Park (Approved)   30,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2001**

January 1997: RAMSAR mission; March 2000: joint IUCN / RAMSAR mission 

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 2001

Previous deliberations:
Twenty-fourth session of the Committee – paragraph VIII.13
Twenty-fourth ordinary session of the Bureau - paragraph IV.12

New information:  IUCN has informed the Centre that reports it has received indicate considerable deterioration in the ecology of the site:

  • total rainfall for the winter of 1999/2000 was below average and did not trigger the closing of the sluice gates at Oued Tinja; this resulted in sea water flowing into the Lake;
  • the winter of 2000/2001 has been as dry as that of 1999/2000 and the sluice gates are likely to remain open causing further increases in the salinity of the Lake waters;
  • no release of water from other sources has been made in an effective manner during the years 2000 and 2001; a recommendation of the mission in 2000 had suggested that the Joumine Canal be blocked to spread the water to the marshes, but attempts to do so failed due to the low amounts and the poor quality of water in the Canal;
  • as salinity of Lake waters has increased in 2000 and 2001, the composition of water birds has become dominated by salt tolerant species such as shelducks and shovelers, resulting in a net reduction in the diversity of species wintering in the Lake.

At its twenty-third session, the Bureau had noted that the rehabilitation of Ichkeul had to be based on a reasonable time frame since "Inter-linked indicators such as salinity, availability of preferred species of food plants of birds and the number of wintering birds arriving at Ichkeul could fluctuate significantly, based on annual variations in rainfall and evapo-transpiration which affect water levels in the Lake"  At that time the Bureau had noted that plans for the provision of fresh water to the Lake would become operational by 2001.

IUCN has noted that the Sidi Barrak dam has been built and is now linked to the Tunisian water grid. However, a pumping station for transporting the water from Sidi Barrak into the Sedjenane from where it could reach Ichkeul has not yet been built.

A high-level meeting was held in 2000 with the participation of the Minister of Environment and the Secretary of State for Agriculture in charge of water issues to discuss the situation at Ichkeul. The meeting had formally recognised the ecological need for providing the Lake with freshwater – 20 million cubic meters of water had been prescribed as the need, although an earlier study carried out by the National Environment Agency had set the requirement at 80 million cubic meters of freshwater.

At the twenty-third session of the Bureau, the "Tunisian Observer informed the Bureau that three of the six dams that would have diverted waters coming into the Lake had been suspended ....". IUCN however has reported that the proposed dams on the Tine, Douimis and Melah Rivers, that flow directly into Ichkeul, appear to be still programmed.

A GEF Project has approved the first stage for preparing the management plans for three of Tunisia’s National Parks, one of which is Ichkeul. In the work for elaborating a management plan for Ichkeul, the GEF consultants have informed the State Party that unless a volume greater than the 20 million cubic metres of water is planned for the Lake, GEF does not consider it feasible to conserve the wetland biodiversity values of the Park. The consultants have, therefore asked the Tunisian authorities, inter alia, to clarify urgently whether additional water can be provided.

IUCN notes that at the twentieth session of the World Heritage Committee in 1996, when the site was placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, the Committee informed the State Party   "...of the possibilities of the deletion of the property from the World Heritage List if rehabilitation of the site would not be possible".  IUCN notes this as an option for consideration by the Committee in case of no tangible improvements to the conservation of this site.

Action Required
The Bureau expresses its serious concerns over the deterioration in the ecology of the Lake during 2000 and 2001 due to lower than average rainfall. The Bureau invites the State Party, once again, to respond to the recommendation of the twenty-fourth session of the Committee and provide a formal written response on the implementation of the recommendations of the March 2000 mission to the site. The Bureau recommends that the State Party consult with concerned national authorities, GEF, Ramsar, IUCN and the Centre to determine how it could assure the release of at least 20 million cubic metres of water to prevent the deterioration in Lake ecology, particularly during dry years. The State Party also needs to put in place procedures and institutional mechanisms that would ensure timely action to release this minimal volume of water into the Lake. The Bureau invites the State Party to submit a detailed report, before 15 September 2001, to the Centre to be presented for thorough review by the Committee at its next session.
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2001

Principal issues:

Deterioration of Lake ecosystem integrity due to upstream development and agricultural encroachments; Lake rehabilitation efforts through steps to ensure annual minimum supplies of freshwater to the Lake. Infrastructure and managerial co-ordination to ensure effective implementation of conservation actions.

New information:              

In June 2001, the tweny-fifth session of the Bureau noted with concern the deteriortation in the ecology of the Lake during 1999-2000 as lower than average amounts of rain fell in the area. The Bureau, while acknowledging that the Sidi Barak Dam construction and its link to the Tunisian Water Grid have been completed, learnt that water releases from the Dam to the Lake had not yet commenced. The Observer of Tunisia informed the Bureau that the Lake needs 280 million of cubic meters of water annually and that the Sidi Barak Dam will serve as the stabilizer compensating for any annual shortfalls caused by low rainfall and/or high rates of evapotranspiration. He expressed the wish that the Bureau and the Committee provide adequate time for determining the efforts of the State Party to rehabilitate Ichkeul and support the extension and strengthening of the scientific monitoring programme that has been set up by the State Party.

 

In response to the recommendation of the twenty-fifth session of the Bureau inviting the State Party, Centre and IUCN to work together to prepare a progress report on benchmarks and related timetable for the monitoring for Ichkeul to the consideration of the twenty-fifth session of the Committee in December 2001, the Delegation of Tunisia to UNESCO transmitted a report, dated September 2001, entitled: "Ecosystem status and safeguarding measures for Ickeul National Park“. The report has been transmitted to IUCN for review. The report contains detailed information on actions taken to implement the several earlier recommendations of the Bureau and the Committee made over several years, and quantitative and time-series data on a number of parameters that may be useful in tracking changes in Lake ecology.  The Centre is awaiting IUCN comments and observations on the report submitted by the State Party

 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2001
25 BUR V.51-56
Ichkeul National Park (Tunisia)

V.51       The Bureau was informed that the total rainfall during the years 1999 and 2000 has been below average and insufficient to trigger the closing of the sluice gates at Oued Tinja, resulting in sea water flowing into the Lake. No release of water from other sources has been made in an effective manner during the years 2000 and 2001. Salinity of the Lake water has increased during this period, the composition of water birds has become dominated by salt tolerant species such as shelducks and shovelers.

V.52       At its twenty-third session, the Bureau noted that the rehabilitation of Ichkeul had to be based on a reasonable time frame since:  "Inter-linked indicators such as salinity, availability of preferred species of food plants for birds and the number of wintering birds arriving at Ichkeul could fluctuate significantly, based on annual variations in rainfall and evapo-transpiration which affect water levels in the Lake" (quoted from the Rapporteur’s Report of the twenty-third session of the Bureau, 5-10 July 1999). At that time, the Bureau had noted that plans for the provision of fresh water to the Lake would become operational by 2001. The Bureau noted that the Sidi Barrak Dam has been built and is now linked to the Tunisian water grid.

V.53       A high-level meeting was held in 2000 with the participation of the Minister of Environment and the Secretary of State for Agriculture in charge of water issues to discuss the situation at Ichkeul. The meeting had formally recognised the ecological need for providing the Lake with adequate freshwater. A GEF project has approved the first stage for preparing the management plans for three of Tunisia’s national parks, one of which is Ichkeul. In the work for elaborating a management plan for Ichkeul, the GEF consultants have informed the State Party that unless adequate volumes of fresh water are provided for the Lake, GEF does not consider it feasible to conserve the wetland biodiversity values of the Park. The consultants have therefore asked the Tunisian authorities, inter alia, to clarify urgently whether additional water can be provided.

V.54       The Delegate of Tunisia informed the Bureau that an Interdepartmental Executive Committee, with the participation of concerned ministries such as planning, agriculture, tourism etc., will be established to co-ordinate actions needed for the conservation of Ichkeul. In addition, a high-level multi-disciplinary scientific council will provide support to the Executive Committee on follow up on the implementation of all recommendations concerning the provision of adequate freshwater to the Ichkeul Lake. He confirmed that the construction of the Sidi Barak Dam has been completed and will serve the role of an ecological stabiliser of the Ichkeul Lake National Park. The Delegate observed that the Lake needs about 280 million cubic metres of water in total annually and any shortfalls in the future caused by low rainfall/high evapo-transpiration rates will be compensated by the waters from the Sidi Barak Dam. He wished that the Bureau and the Committee provide adequate time for determining the efforts of the State Party to rehabilitate Ichkeul and support the extension and strengthening of the scientific monitoring programme that has been established.

V.55       The Delegate of Canada stressed the need for the Centre and IUCN to work with the State Party to establish benchmarks and indicators for the Committee’s future monitoring of the state of conservation of Ichkeul.

V.56       The Bureau expressed its concerns over the deterioration in the ecology of the Lake during 1999-2000 due to lower than average rainfall. The Bureau invited the State Party to expand and strengthen the scientific monitoring programme for the site and ensure that sufficient amounts of freshwater are released, as and when needed, from the Sidi Barak Dam and other sources, in order to restore, preserve and maintain the integrity of the Ichkeul National Park. The Bureau recommended that the State Party consults with the Centre and IUCN, concerned national authorities, as well as Ramsar, GEF and suitable international and regional partners to establish a set of benchmarks and a suitable timeframe to guide the Committee’s future monitoring of the state of conservation of Ichkeul. The Bureau invited the Centre, IUCN and the State Party to work together to prepare a progress report on benchmarks and related timetable for monitoring of Ichkeul to the consideration at the forthcoming session of the Committee in Finland in December 2001.

The Committee, based on findings of the IUCN review of the report submitted by the State Party and due to be available at the time of its session, may take appropriate decisions and make recommednations for the consideration of the State Party and for implementation in co-operation with the Centre and IUCN and other stakeholders. 

Report year: 2001
Tunisia
Date of Inscription: 1980
Category: Natural
Criteria: (x)
Danger List (dates): 1996-2006
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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