Tunisia assesses its implementation of the Ramsar Convention and launches the removal process of Ichkeul from the Montreux Record


A workshop on the Implementation of the Ramsar Convention in Tunisia was organised by the Tunisian General Directorate of Forestry and WWF Tunisia on 21 September 2012, with the ultimate goal to have a round table discussion with all wetland actors in order to examine the current implementation of the Ramsar Convention in Tunisia and officially launch the removal process of Ichkeul, the first Tunisian site, from the Montreux Record. This brought together over 50 Tunisian wetland actors including government agencies, associations from the Tunisian wetlands Network (TunWet), the Ramsar Secretariat, WWF International, the media and the general public.

The workshop addressed some of the following questions:

  • What next after the designation of 37 Ramsar Sites?
  • What should be done to ensure that the ecological character of Ramsar Sites is maintained?
  • What should be done to remove Ichkeul from the Montreux Record?

Participants at the workshop

Tunisia’s objective was to attain 40 Ramsar Sites by 2015. Today, the country counts 37 Ramsar Sites with 4 more under review by the Ramsar Secretariat. The workshop discussions emphasized the need for a better management of the existing sites. The elaboration and implementation of management plans for these sites to ensure their conservation and wise use are now the current priorities. Tunisia agreed to make this the priority of its newly created National Wetland Committee.

The decision to work towards removing Ichkeul from the Montreux Record by assessing the current ecological character of the site falls within this priority. This 12,600 ha Biosphere Reserve, Important Bird Area, World Heritage Site and National Park was designated as a Wetland of International Importance on 24/11/80 as Tunisia’s first Ramsar Site, and added to the Montreux record on 4 July 1990 as a result of threats to its ecological character following the construction project of three dams. Since its listing on the Montreux Record, three Ramsar Advisory Missions have been carried out to ensure follow up of the restoration project, with the last Advisory Mission being a joint Ramsar/IUCN and World Heritage mission in 2000. After actions towards the implementation of the RAM recommendations and an assessment of the restoration project on the site, Tunisia has decided to follow up the process to officially remove Ichkeul from the Montreux Record. This process was officially launched during the workshop by the Ramsar Administrative Authority in Tunisia - Mr. Slaheddine Touati, Director General of Forests.

The Tunisian Government presented the results of the restoration projects carried out on Ichkeul indicating some successful implementations of the RAM recommendations: the increasing number of waterbirds in recent inventories, the encouraging results of the water quality and quantity assessments carried out by the Tunisian National Agency for Environmental protection (ANPE) program and the restoration of the Joumine marsh. A full scientific report of the current ecological state of the lake shall be prepared and sent to the Ramsar Secretariat to follow up this process.

Wetland Information Centre at Ghar el Melh

One of the recent actions in Tunisia towards the implementation of the Ramsar Convention is the designation of the City with a “Ramsar City accreditation” following Ramsar COP Resolution XI. 11. Several studies are currently being carried out by WWF-Tunis on the Tunisian Ramsar Site Lagune de Ghar el Melh et Delta de la Mejerda towards the creation of a wetland information centre to further study the implementation of this concept. So far, renovation works have been carried out at one of the cultural buildings in the city for the creation of this information centre.

According to Mr. Faouzi Maamouri from WWF Tunis, Ghar el Melh is a city with great ecological and cultural values demonstrating strong and positive relationships with wetlands, thus a good proposal for a Ramsar City accreditation.

WWF and Ramsar discussing the Ramsar City Project with the representative of the Ghar el Mehl Municipality © Céline Beaulieu

The workshop ended with a certificate-award ceremony for two newly designated Ramsar Sites in Tunisia: Barrage Mlaabi and Complexe des zones humides des Chott el Guetayate et Sebkhet Dhreia et Oueds Akarit, Rekhama et Meleh ( see full article here ). Tunisia now has 37 Ramsar Sites and has embarked on the elaboration and implementation of management plans for these sites with the creation of a National Wetlands Committee.

Ramsar Site manager (left) receiving Ramsar Site Certificate © Awatef

More information on the event:
»  http://www.tunisienumerique.com/la-tunisie-celebre-linscription-de-deux-nouveaux-sites-dans-la-liste-des zones-humides-dimportance-internationale-de-la-convention-ramsar/145296
» http://www.espacemanager.com/divers/tunisie-ecologie-deux-sites-tunisiens-classes-d-importance-internationale.html
» http://www.radioexpressfm.com/podcast/show/deux-nouveaux-sites-tunisiens-viennent-d-etre-classes-d-importance-internationale-sur-la-liste-ramsar
» http://www.tap.info.tn/fr/fr/economie/agriculture-et-environnement/33122-le-qwwf-tunisq-evalue-lapplication-de-la-convention-de-ramsar-en-tunisie.html
» http://www.tunivisions.net/37912/567/149/tunisie-economie-le-wwf-tunis-evalue-l-application-de-la-convention-de-ramsar-en-tunisie.html 

Report by Ako Charlotte Eyong, Assistant Advisor for Africa

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