Participatory governance as an instrument for the management of natural resources in Tunisia

In many Mediterranean countries, protected areas are facing serious challenges in achieving their conservation goals. The recently ratified Mediterranean Strategy on Sustainable Development (MSSD) 2016-2025 recognizes Mediterranean Protected Areas at risk from insufficient spatial coverage, planning, management and funding. Protected Areas in the Southern shore are not the exception to this trend. All protected areas are underfunded and require at least a minimum level of investment to improve the infrastructure. They count on a minimum management capacity in order to mitigate critical threats to their conservation objectives. However, sources of funding are limited by legislation.
Jbel Zaghouan National Park

Despite the difficulties of the complex socio-political situation the country went through, Tunisian national legislation clearly recognizes the importance of Protected Areas and boosts public-private collaborations for their management and for the active and organized implication of the local population in conservation and development actions. In this framework, the IUCN-Med and the Tunisian Direction Générale des Forêts established a collaboration agreement to improve the Protected Areas governance and more specifically to evaluate and test the instalment of co-management initiatives in the National Parks of Zaghouan and El Feija in Tunisia.

The results of the inception phase that is currently under development, financed by the IUCN-Med with the support of the MAVA foundation, will set up the basis for the future implementation of specific actions in the country, with the objective of improving territorial governance as an instrument for the management of natural resources in Tunisia.

IUCN has a long standing experience in analyzing and implementing new governance models in Protected Areas around the world, especially through the work of its commissions and experts. It will provide new insights to the work already developed on the subject in the country.

Project objectives

(I) Improvement of the protection and conservation status of Tunisian Protected Areas through the implementation of innovative models of participatory governance;

(II) Improvement of the local livelihoods and diversification of the income opportunities for the populations living in the surroundings of the protected area.

Expected results

·        Improved management efficiency in the Protected Areas of Zaghouan and El Feija thanks to collaborative management;

·        Local associations and companies benefit from the active collaboration with the park management;

·        The local population is more aware of the importance of conserving its territory;

·        Tunisia and Andalusia cooperate and exchange experiences and information regarding the decentralization for the management of territory.

Action Plan of 2016

The project foresees the implementation of co-management model in Protected Areas of Zaghouan and El-Feija, according to the action plan defined by IUCN / DGF in 2016.

In this first phase of 2016, we will work on two levels: (I) the national level to identify administrative and legal procedures to be followed by DGF to implement co-management activities in Protected Areas in Tunisia; (II) the local level, where an implementation plan with specific co-management actions for the territories of Zaghouan and Feija will be identified.

The implementation plan will be defined following a participatory approach, including all local actors who will also be involved in the implementation of the future identified actions. Specific support will be defined by the type of co-management action that is designated for each area.

In parallel, awareness campaigns for the local people (in schools, associations ...) will be carried out and a program will be setup for managers who wish to share their experiences regarding management challenges and finally the implementation of co-management at legislative and executive levels between Andalusia and Tunisia will be implemented.

Intervention Areas

·        National Park of Zaghouan, Zaghouan Region (NE)

·        National Park of El Feija, Jendouba Region (NO)


·        IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation      

·        General Directorate of Forestry – Ministry of Agriculture - Tunisia


First phase: end 2016

For further information Maher Mahjoub – North Africa programme Coordinator

Go to top