Modelling and Management of the Internationally Important Wetland at Garaet El Ichkeul, Tunisia
This report coming halfway through a four year study 1982-86, develops the knowledge, models and management strategies described in the UCL 1977 Management Plan for Ichkeul. The declaration of a National Park at Ichkeul and its listing under three international conservation conventions has been associated with governmental appreciation of the need for conservation measures to ameliorate the effects of a dam/water diversion scheme and the agricultural improvement of the adjacent plain.
This basic study was a vital basis, since Ichkeul's importance is founded not simply on conservation grounds. In a country such as Tunisia, situated on the northern edge of the Sahara desert, water is a natural resource of prime importance for economic and social development. While the national park was being established, the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture was developing plans to build a series of dams, well outside the park itself, on reivers flowing in to Ichkeul. These dams are key element in Tunisian water resources planning, and will provide water for agriculture, for urban development and for industry. The effects of the dams on the National Park would be to produce a drastic reduction in the inflow of fresh water derived from winter rainfall, and to allow a greater flowback of water from the outlet to the sea. Ichkeul, one of the last of the greateshwater lakes of North Africa, would tend to become a salt depression, like the many others in central and southern Tunisia and Algeria. A further question arose over the future of fishery in the lake and the possibility of it continuing under changed water supply conditions.
***A review copy is available at Wetlands International Headquarters