Tunis — Tunisia has classified an additional list of 21 of the country's wetlands among its marshes, lakes, rivers, dams, and 'sabkhats' (salt lakes), to be included on the "Ramsar" convention list.
The news was announced by the Tunisia president of WWF (World Wide Fund for nature), Mr Faouzi Maamouri, during a sensitization meeting in Tunis. Tunisia has already classified 231 of its wetlands, which are inventoried in 11 categories. Their total surface covers 1 million 250 thousand hectares.
Mr Maamouri said that the cost of the project which is due to be achieved over a 3 year period (2009-2011) will cost 500,000 dinars, to be jointly funded by the national forestry board and the Swiss environmental educational foundation (MAVA).
He also noted that Tunisia is one of the first signatories of the convention which was signed in Ramsar, Iran in 1971.
The convention which groups 158 contracting parties, has a list of 1831 wetland sites , totalling 170 million hectares. Its mission is the conservation and wide use of wetlands through local, regional and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world.
Wetlands and humid areas are an indispensable element of the earth's water cycle. These last 30 years, certain countries have lost 50 to 80% of their wetlands and along with them a number of animal and vegetal species have also disappeared or are in the process of disappearing.
Photo shows flamingo population in Tunisia. Tunisia's wetlands host a population estimated at more than 250,000 flamingoes.