MedArtSal: project for sustainable management of salinas

Salinas of Sfax-Thyna in Tunisia, biodiversity and ecotourism

31 August, 17:36

    (ANSAmed) - TUNIS, AUGUST 31 - A cross-border project between Italy, Spain, Lebanon, and Tunisia funded by the EU called "MedArtSal" aims to define a model of sustainable management of artisanal salinas and their promotion. It also aims to promote the diversification of products and their marketing, develop eco-sustainable tourism, and preserve the biodiversity of the salinas. The project began last November and is headed by the University Consortium for Industrial and Managerial Economics and with the Tunisian-Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CTICI) as a partner. MedArtSal is aimed at managers of salinas as well as directors of institutional policies. On the one hand, managers of salinas will receive updated training on how to manage an artisanal salina to remain competitive, above all by diversifying products. On the other hand, directors of institutional policies will help to build a management model that will be further tested in two artisanal salinas in Spain and Tunisia. In addition, a network of Mediterranean artisanal salinas will be created to capitalise on the project's results on a long-term basis. Salt has been a sign of and a source of wealth across history, and has always been considered a basic necessity, indispensable for preserving food and the scarcity of which constituted an authentic misfortune that impoverished people and countries. In a statement, CTICI wrote that salt was so important that it was treated like money, sometimes called "white gold", whose use over time has gained profound symbolic meanings linked to civil and religious life, still traceable today in documents, books, places, and toponomastics. Tunisia has numerous salinas sites, the use of which have marked the country's recent economic history. These sites, however, don't have only economic interest, but naturalistic interest as well, hosting a vast range of animal and vegetable species. This is the case at the salina in Thyna, in the region of Sfax, whose annual salt production comes to 300,000 tonnes. The diversity of the basins and their regular supply of seawater create favourable living conditions for many aquatic birds. This artificial ecosystem therefore represents a site of great importance for migratory and sedentary birds, above all during wintering and nesting, which earned it the recognition as a ZICO Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA). These humid areas, modelled and protected thanks to saliculture, host more than 100 bird species in 33 families, of which 80 are wintering species. Density can reach up to 100,000 birds, making this humid area an exceptional Mediterranean wintering place. Some species, including the pink flamingo and the avocet, have settled. The Thyna salinas play three roles: as a place of passage (transition), a place of wintering, and a nursery mainly for flamingoes who spend the first five years of life there prior to going to Turkey, Spain, or Italy to nest and reproduce. Taking advantage of this immense natural wealth, increasing numbers of nature associations are launching original projects aimed at developing ecotourism in this area. Recently, one of these associations, "Les Aventuriers", developed cycling circuits in the sublime natural reserve of Thyna, which allow for taking advantage of the natural riches and discovering the region in a different way, highlighting the heritage, allowing excursionists to enjoy the places' beauty and to admire close up the diversity of the birds that nest there.(ANSAmed). (ANSA).

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