This is a subproject that is under the umbrella of the project "Sustainable livelihoods in North Africa and East Mediterranean" financially supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs- Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID).
As part of its programme and priorities, IUCN Med, with the support of the Spanish Cooperation Agency and in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment of Tunisia, run between 2011 and 2012 a project for improving decision making and capacities for planning and managing ecotourism activities in and around protected areas in two countries: Morocco (Talassemtane National Park) and Tunisia (Jebel Zaghouan National Park).
The project, based on the well-established methodology of the European Charter of Ecotourism in PA’s, provided support and advice to competent authorities, civil society, and managers of tourism activities in order to develop an environmentally friendly tourism based on cultural and natural values that takes into account the needs of the local populations.
The results that this project achieved can be grouped in two different categories. First, the knowledge on the ecotourism potential and management opportunities of the areas were enhanced, through an assessment of both project areas and through the definition of a strategic plan, i.e. an action plan for the next 5 years, where the necessary actions are carefully planned and the main actors responsible for their implementation are clearly defined.
Secondly, the participation of civil society in decision making at local level and the interdepartmental cooperation at national level were reinforced, by the creation of a working group for the definition of the ecotourism strategy involving all stakeholders of each area, the instalment of a steering committee at national level for supervision and coordination of the actions and the setting up a permanent local forum for discussion and implementation of ecotourism activities in the area.
All this achievements, that engaged both civil society organisations and the administrations, are essential for the implementation of ecotourism activities within and around the natural area. The international cooperation had been as well reinforced, through a regional event held from 19 to 21 of November, where the project participants of both countries exchanged their experiences, looked for common solutions and opportunities to consolidate the project outcomes and duplicate them in other potential zones (link a la noticia)
Following this project’s experience, some key common issues arose in both areas that can be considered as main concerns for ecotourism implementation in protected areas at regional level, being the most relevant:
a) the lack of clearly defined management plans in the areas or, if present, the lack of implementation of the actions of the plans;
b) weak involvement of civil society in decision making and lack of coordination of ecotourism and cooperation activities among stakeholders.
c) the lack of funds and human capacity for effective management of the areas;
d) the lack of regulations on ecotourism activities in the areas;
e) weakly defined competences on ecotourism at administrative level;
All these concerns make quite difficult the implementation of real ecotourism actions, aimed at improving livelihoods but also at biodiversity conservation. The project has helped putting the basis for getting over of some of these weaknesses.
The products arising from this project, that are:
- Analysis of Institutional framework on protected areas and ecotourism for Morocco
- Analysis of Institutional framework on protected areas and ecotourism for Tunisa
- Ecotourism Diagnostic for the Jbel Zaghouan National Park
- Ecotourism Diagnostic for the Talassemntane National Park
- Strategic Plan for ecotourism in theTalassemntane National Park
- Strategic Plan for ecotourism in the Jbel Zaghouan National Park
For further info Carla Danelutti