On the occasion of World Wetlands Day (WWD), a scientific and awareness forum under the theme “Keep the Sebkha, your city will be improved” was organized by the Directorate General of Forests in collaboration with WWF Tunisia and the Association “Les Amis des Oiseaux” (AAO), on 5 February 2018 in Bizerte, Tunisia. The event was under the supervision of Mr. Samir Bettaieb, Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries, with the participation of governmental, private and associated actors active in the field of conservation and sustainable management of wetlands at national and local levels.
In his speech during the event, the Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries emphasized the importance of wetlands and their fundamental role in biodiversity conservation and their socio-economic, scientific, cultural and recreational role, which contributes to the future of sustainable cities, and the harmony of this role with the WWD’s theme adopted by the Ramsar Convention ”Wetlands for a future sustainable urban development“. Hence the need to protect these ecosystems against irresponsible human activities such as the uncontrolled exploitation of neighbouring lands, the uncontrolled disposal of household and construction waste.
A study of the sustainable management of wetlands was presented on this occasion. It proposes as objectives a better knowledge of wetlands, the reinforcement of the frameworks governing the governance of these zones, and their valorisation through rational use. This will ensure the conservation of these ecosystems, contribute to economic and social development, and reconcile conservation and development.
The minister also announced at the end of his speech that a new project on the preservation and development of coastal wetlands in Ghar El Melh (Bizerte) will soon be launched in collaboration with WWF Tunisia, the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation (IUCN Med), Birdlife Europe and Central Asia, the Global Water Partnership (GWP), the Tour du Valat, the National Institute for agronomic research of Tunis (INAT) and, the Association “Les Amis des Oiseaux” (AAO).
Scientific and awareness-raising workshops were organized during the event, highlighting the importance of wetlands in Tunisia in general and how can they be exploited by the local population in Bizerte in particular, and also focusing on the need for the implementation of the National Wetlands Strategy which concerns more than 300 sites.
The day was also a great opportunity for various relevant civil society groups to share their experiences. As an example, the Tunisian National Agency for the Protection of the Environment (ANPE) presented their scientific monitoring of the Ichkeul Ramsar Site, illustrating the importance of wetlands for birdlife, as well as various other Tunisian conservation issues and. A photo exhibition on wetlands and various other exhibit stands were also organized dedicated to associations and their activities and projects around wetlands.
Read the article (in French language) of la Presse:
Imen Rais, WWF Tunisia