Ichkeul National Park (1980)
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The Ichkeul lake and wetland are a major stopover point for hundreds of thousands of migrating birds, such as ducks, geese, storks and pink flamingoes, who come to feed and nest there. Ichkeul is the last remaining lake in a chain that once extended across North Africa.
In 1996, the site was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The Park was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger during the 20th session of the Committee (1996) as a result of significant deterioration in the characteristics for which the site was inscribed. The construction of three dams on rivers supplying Lake Ichkeul and its marshes has cut off almost all inflow of fresh water, causing a destructive increase in the salinity of the lake and marshes. Reed beds, sedges and other fresh-water plant species have been replaced by halophytic plants, with a consequent sharp reduction in the migratory bird populations dependent on the habitat the lake formerly provided. According to IUCN, all reed-dependent species such as purple heron, purple gallinule and reed warblers have disappeared.
In June 1998 IUCN 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 and expressed its concern at the slow pace and effectiveness of the implementation of the rehabilitation program by the State Party.
The Tunisian government has undertaken various measures to retain freshwater in the lakes on a year-round basis and reduce the salinity of the lake. The World Heritage Committee, during its 1998 session, recommended sending an expert mission to the site to look into possibilities of developing additional rehabilitation measures for Ichkeul and determining progress in the implementation of mitigation measures by the Tunisian authorities.
Sources and links:
Other World Heritage Sites in Tunisia (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Tunisia section for further information about the individual properties.
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Revised 20 jul 2006