MedWetCoast Project for conservation of Wetlands and Coastal Ecosystems in the Mediterranean Region MedWetCoast Project for conservation of Wetlands and Coastal Ecosystems in the Mediterranean Region
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Tunisian Project Document
Cap Bon
September 1999, by Web Team

This project is the Tunisian component of a Mediterranean regional initiative involving Albania, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority and Tunisia. The overall initiative is aimed at ensuring the sustainable management the biological diversity of the coastal areas and wetlands in 6 Mediterranean countries/ Authority, through the development of adequate legal and regulatory frameworks, the creation of institutional organizations adapted to the complexity of the issues at stake, capacity-building and the development of an exchange network at the regional level both to achieve economies of scale and to save time when implementing and replicating the innovating actions undertaken.

The objective of the project is to create or enhance the exchange structures and fora concerned with this general management :
-  By establishing interministerial coordination mechanisms for projects undertaken at the local and national levels ;
-  By developing demonstration activities at the most significant sites ;
-  By awareness-raising, training and networking of the population groups and the social and economic actors and establishing linkages between them around the Mediterranean basin.


The main objective of this project is to build capacity in the participating countries in the Mediterranean region to conserve threatened, globally significant biodiversity in coastal and wetland eco-systems within the framework of sustainable coastal development. The project therefore aims at «closing the Mediterranean circle», in terms of wetland and coastal conservation initiative. The project will ensure that lessons learned and experiences made in the northern rim of the Mediterranean can be effectively transferred and, where applicable, applied and/or adapted to the prevailing circumstances in the participating countries. The regionality of the project provides a greater cost effectiveness and effectiveness for such information and experience transfers both on a north-south basis as well as on a south-south basis.

For the purposes of this project, eligible wetlands, primarily of lagoon type, are those whose flows are interconnected with the Mediterranean Sea, while coastal areas are the terrestrial components of the coastal zone in the vicinity, and under the influence of the Mediterranean Sea. The project does therefore not address navigational and marine pollution issues and nor marine biodiversity. These are presently covered by other existing and planned programmes, in particular under MAP/UNEP (GEF PDF B: Formulation of a strategic action programme for the Mediterranean Sea to address pollution from land-based activities).

This proposal addresses conservation of globally threatened biodiversity in 16 important wetland and coastal sites in five Mediterranean countries and in the Palestinian Authority. Through a combination of innovative land-use and wetland policies at national level, site protection and management at local level and regional networking and exchange of experience the proposal will provide a biodiversity protection increment to other brown programme addressing pollution and water resource issues in the beneficiary countries/authority. At site level mechanisms for taking account of local concerns and ensuring local participation and economic returns are built into the project from the outset.

The Mediterranean region has seen the rise and fall of many empires over the last 2500 years. Numerous invasions and commercial links, many of them by sea, have seen eastern traders found cities in the western basin, Catalan influence extend as fax as Greece, and Arabic culture penetrate well into the Iberian peninsula. These fluxes, together with the enclosed nature of the sea, have led to the establishment of a common Mediterranean identity and culture. This identity is reinforced by the circum-Mediterranean climate of hot dry summers and rainy winters, which is also responsible for the development of ecosystems characteristic of the region.

The Mediterranean coastline (26,000 km) is an area of high biodiversity, where more than 50% of the 25,000 plant species are endemic to the region. It is also a critical area for migratory birds in the Africa-Palearctic flyway as wetlands in the region provide an essential flyway stepping stone on either side of the Mediterranean Sea and between the sea and the vast expanse of the Sahara desert to the south.

The major threats to the exceptional biodiversity of these wetland and coastal ecosystems related to uncontrolled development, urbanization, increasing national and international tourism, land-based pollution, and unplanned or over-exploitation of natural resources, in particular freshwater.

Aware of their common heritage, the Mediterranean States and European Union have developed common programmes and policies for the sustainable development and conservation of the coast since 1975. The Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP Regional Seas Programme), the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development, METAP, LIFE, MedWet, Natura 2000 and MEDA (EU) are some of these regional initiatives.

The MedWet programme for the conservation of Mediterranean wetlands originated from the Grado Conference (Italy, 1991). The initiative was recently widened (Venice, 1996) where all the riparian States present endorsed a common strategy for the conservation of Mediterranean wetlands. In parallel, the Mediterranean Action Plan, Conservatoire du Littoral (France) and Ramsar Convention secretariat held a joint technical meeting on coastal zoneഊmanagement (Hyeres, 1995) where 12 countries agreed on the need to develop land use policies for effective management of the coastal zone.

Today, the States of the Mediterranean region are at different stages of economic and institutional development and therefore differ in their capacity to address biodiversity issues within the context of sustainable development. Incremental funding is required to allow them to implement agreed regional policies in the field. The overall GEF-funded Wetlands and Coastal project includes six countries/authorities, namely Albania, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Authority.

Recent developments

Among the major recent changes, mention must be made of the creation in 1995 of the National Agency for Coastal Protection and Planning (APAL) which is responsible for the following actions:
- Harmonization/coordination of projects and programmes concerning the coastal areas,
- Removal of the infractions to the law on the Maritime Public Territory,
- Serving as an instrument for land management of the coastal zones,
- Acting as an observatory of the evolution of coastal ecosystems,
- Evaluating impact studies.

In addition, within the framework of the Ninth Plan (1997-2001), the APAL programme includes:
- The establishment of the Observatory of the Littoral,
- The elaboration of comprehensive beach development plans,
- Studies and rehabilitation operations in the coastal zones,
- Land acquisition for the protection of sensitive and threatened sites in coastal areas,
- Various studies.


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Regional Project Document

The Tunisian Project Document is available in french

Tunisian Project Document
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