As part of a project led by IUCN-Med and funded by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID) for the establishment of an eco-tourism plan in two pilot protected areas in North Africa (Morocco and Tunisia), a 2nd field visit took place in Tunisia during the last week of March.
The objective of this mission was the collection of information to finalize the diagnostic of Jebel Zaghouan National Park (50 km away from the Capital), one of the protected areas selected in this project, and the establishment of an on-site working group of local stakeholders to participate in the definition of the eco-tourism strategy for the park. It had been as well the occasion to hold the 2nd meeting of the national Steering Committee of the project, composed by representatives of the Ministries of Environment, Agriculture, Tourism and a national NGO.
The level of interest and participation to the meetings with local stakeholders in Zaghouan had been extremely high and successful. The meetings counted with the involvement of national and local authorities representing the sectors of Environment, Agriculture, Tourism and local Development, as well as representatives from the private sector and main NGOs active in the area and at national level. This availability of information rising from all the experts, together with the field visit to the Park, have allowed for a better understanding of the gaps and needs for the development of Eco-tourism in protected areas and the compilation of complementary data. IUCN-Med has opened a wiki to help share contents and encourage further contributions. It has also helped in clarifying the concept of eco-tourism among participants, which is sometimes confused with tourism in protected areas. The project’s working group has been invited to make proposals for action to support the integration of eco-tourism in the region which will be included in the strategic plan. IUCN-Med is helping mobilize and bring together local partners and stakeholders to encourage the community’s sense of ownership and assist with the best technical knowledge available. This project is willing to represent a first step in a long term process to encourage the development of an ecotourism network associated to natural areas in the whole Mediterranean region. For further information: Carla Danelutti.