TUNISIA: Gulf of HammametThe environmental degradation of the Mediterranean basin over the last decades is severe and gradually worsening in many areas as the coastal zone is at the same time an area of high attractiveness for urban development, parallel economic development of agriculture, industry, and tourism, and also an area of great sensitivity and vulnerability with fragile ecosystems.
The heavy concentration of people and their economic activities and consumption patterns of natural resources have resulted in a steady deterioration of the coastal zone. Preserving, restoring, and managing the coastal environment in an integrated and sustainable manner is an increasingly urgent task in Tunisia.
The Tunisian coastline spans 1,300 km. Over the last two decades, a major shift of population growth, urbanization, industrialization and tourism towards the coastal zone could be observed. The emerging problems are typical, and usually involve a combination of rapid land use change, population growth driven to a large degree by migration from inland agricultural areas, depletion of water resources often accompanied by overexploitation of groundwater resources and consequent salt water intrusion in the immediate coastal zone, and pollution from unchecked economic development and insufficient waste and waste water management. These development conflict with the parallel development of tourism, which depends on the same resource basis but also on a clean and attractive environment, inland and coastal areas.
The Tunisian case study will analyse land use change as a major driving force as much as symptom of coastal zone management problems, and identify selected hot spots where the conflicts of land use, water resources, and pollution are most obvious. The case study site is the Gulf of Hammamet with its large tourist resorts.
The effect of institutional as well as regulatory and economic conditions of coastal zone development will be related to the patterns of land use change as the primary indicator of coastal zone development. The comparative analysis of locations along the entire Tunisian coastline, using remote sensing and GIS technology as the primary instruments, will identify selected hot spots of development problems (primary conflicts in land use, water resources allocation, and pollution) and for a detailed analysis with the dynamic water resources and spatial development models. Emphasis of the socio-economic analysis will be distributional effects of development, as well as the potential for policy instruments based on overall economic efficiency and the polluter pays principle. Implementation, administrative and regulatory efficiency, and general political acceptability are key issues to be analysed within the network of local stake holders and problem owners, including developers and tourism operators, agriculture, local municipalities, state institutions, and NGOs.
The institutional end users involved with coastal zone development and environmental protection include the Tunisian Center for Remote Sensing (established in 1988), the National Agency for Environmental Protection, The Tunisian Agency for Coastal Protection and Management, The International Center for Environmental Technologies, and the National Environment and Development Observatory.