Economic value of ecosystem services of Ichkeul National Park, Tunisia

Economic value of ecosystem services of Ichkeul National Park, Tunisia

20 April 2017
Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Mali

IUCN has published a study (in French: link) assessing the economic value of ecosystem services provided by Ichkeul National Park. The Park, which covers 12,600 hectares, has been a Ramsar Site (Site no. 213) since 1980. It is also a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site.

Ichkeul is an extensive, seasonally variable lake with associated marshes and varying salinity. Vegetation consists of reedbeds, scrub, and halophytic (salt tolerant) plants. The region is one of the most important in Tunisia for fresh water and in North Africa for several species of wintering waterbirds, whose numbers reach 90,000 or more and include globally threatened species. Human activities include fishing, with production reaching 200,000 kilogrammes per year, livestock grazing and tourism. The Site includes an eco-museum and information centre.

The main issues relate to steps to prohibit certain direct uses such as grazing and fishing by the local population, falling water levels and the salinization of the waters. The installation of upstream dams for drinking water and irrigation has contributed to the imbalance of the ecosystem.

This assessment will improve understanding of the importance of the Site and raise awareness of the need to ensure its wise use and conserve the different biodiversity components. It will also help to reconcile the conservation objectives of the Park with the expectations and aspirations of the local population, in particular in terms of the use and valuation of its resources.

The study follows a similar report by IUCN on the Sourou Valley in Burkina Faso and Mali (link). This large ecosystem includes two Ramsar Sites: “Vallée du Sourou” (Site no. 1885) in Burkina, which was designated in 2009 and covers 20,926 hectares, and “Plaine inondable du Sourou” (Site no. 2128) in Mali, designated in 2013 and covering 56,500 hectares.