The lagoons of Tunisia are in danger of extinction due to climate change and chaotic urbanization

The lagoons of Tunisia are in danger of extinction due to climate change and chaotic urbanization

Source: Pexels
Tunisia's famous lagoons are drying up rapidly – the summer heat, when the thermometer rises to 49 °C, as well as chaotic urbanization in the absence of proper state control have brought them to the brink of extinction. The current situation is fraught not only with desertification of the territory, but also with the death of birds and animals living there, disruption of the entire ecosystem of the region, scientists are sounding the alarm.

According to images from the European Space Agency's Copernicus Sentinel-2 remote sensing satellites, only in the period from 2021 to 2023, the Ariana Lagoon shrank several times to a minimum size.

Tunisia has been experiencing a drought for six years with an increase in the average air temperature in summer and a decrease in the amount of rain in winter. Climate change has had an extremely negative impact on the already depleted groundwater sources that feed the country's waterlands. Environmentalists warn that if the temperature reaches a record high of 49 °C again in July, then the three lagoons located in the Tunisian capital will disappear altogether.

According to ecologist Imen Labidi, Ariana Lagoon is connected to two other lagoons - Sijumi and Lac, also located near the capital, and in case one of them dries up, irreversible consequences will affect the other two. "These lagoons are a key spot for migratory birds, which will also be affected," she said. "In addition, there are also some species of fish, frogs and insects." 

Illegal construction poses perhaps a greater threat to lagoons than the climate. Chaotic construction leads to the fact that sewage is drained directly into the Ariana lagoon. Over the past 12 years, the lagoon, according to local residents, has turned into a landfill of sewage, household waste and garbage. Until 2011, when the Tunisian revolution took place, seawater was poured into the lakes, cleanliness was monitored, and fish were found there. The period of political and economic instability has pushed environmental issues into the background. The number of birds has decreased significantly in recent years, but the amount of dust has increased dramatically, local residents complain.

"People should know that these territories play a huge role in protecting nearby areas from flooding, as they absorb rainwater and feed groundwater," said ecologist Labidi. - They are extremely important for countering climate change due to their ability to absorb twice as much carbon dioxide as forests. We have to save at least one lagoon..."
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