May 22 is World Biodiversity Day. In Tunisia, this day went unnoticed by the vast majority of our fellow citizens. It is a pity, because it should have been an opportunity to raise awareness that we humans are part of something bigger than we, living, just like animals, insects, plants, microorganisms – all elements of biodiversity.
By Dr. Salem Sahli *
There is no specific biodiversity protection program in our country, we are satisfied “celebrate”, Officially and without cheating, World Biodiversity Day and Basta.
Tunisia’s biodiversity is under threat
But Tunisia is one of the least forested countries in Africa. Our forests are poorly maintained and poorly managed. The forest code is outdated, and the profession of forester is devalued. Urbanization absorbs thousands of hectares of our agricultural land every year, despite the existence of a code of land management and urban planning.
Marine pollution in the Gulf of Gabes has led to the almost complete extinction of many endemic marine species, and Tunisia’s national parks are in a deplorable state.
In general, the protection of biological diversity is the least of our concerns. Have you seen or read at least one proposal on biodiversity on the election platforms of our political parties? Of course not. They do not care. Furthermore, don’t we see that the creation of a constitutional authority for sustainable development and the rights of future generations is constantly postponed indefinitely?
Biodiversity and climate change are interrelated
Both phenomena are equally important. They are also connected. Climate change, by destroying ecosystems, accelerates the rate of species extinction and contributes to biodiversity loss. Preserving nature for humanity is a fairly simple matter of survival. Without plants and animals, without ecosystems in general, the Earth would no longer be habitable to humans.
Our planet provides us with breathable air, drinking water, animals, mushrooms and edible plants, all kinds of raw materials and more. If, for example, large forests of the tropics, called “Lungs of the planet”would be completely destroyed, there would be much less oxygen in the air.
In the seas, due to intensive fishing, there is not enough fish: once there will be nothing to catch, and there will be no more fish on our plates, because even farmed fish are mostly fed fish caught in the seas.
The extinction of species is worrying
What is new and worrying is that the rate of extinction of species has accelerated sharply as a result of human activities, directly through food or recreational hunting, or indirectly through the destruction or destruction of poisoning in the environment where animals and plants live.
According to a report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) published on October 30, 2018, the population of wild vertebrates on Earth decreased by 60% between 1970 and 2014.
Did you know that several species have finally disappeared in Tunisia: the Atlas stuffed lion in Montpellier, France; the last red ostrich was killed in Gabes in 1902, the last antelope (adax) disappeared in 1930, the last cheetah was killed by a truck near El Borma in 1968… And the list goes on.
You can’t eat money
The Hammamet Environmental Education Association (Aere) has implemented several projects on biodiversity protection. Some examples: a virtual exhibition “Let’s save the Mediterranean”; the project to create a nature reserve in El Fauari; creation of an educational garden of succulents in the Yasmina area; creation of an ecological trail in the International Cultural Center of Hammamet; development of a manual for leveling Hammamet plants; the Hammamet Citrus Festival, which raises awareness of citrus biodiversity in the Cap Bon region; edition “El Fawara, a living forest”; and recently a project to protect sea turtles in Tunisia…
All these actions are aimed at raising awareness and awareness of the importance of protecting biodiversity. Because, as the Indian saying goes: “When the last tree will be cut down,when the lastthe river was poisonedwhen withthe first fish will be caught, cOnly then will you realize that money cannot be eaten. “.
* President Aère.
** Illustration to the article: succulent training garden in the Yasmina area, in Hammamet.