apuan alps unesco global geopark





Voyage en Tunisie
Cooperation projects towards the first Tunisian Geopark

12th-16th February 2014




The Apuan Alps Geopark as incubator of a possible Geopark in Tataouine (southern Tunisia) within international cooperation projects to be developed through Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). This is the mission that has been outlined by the Director Dr. Antonio Bartelletti and Dr. Giuseppe Ottria, member of the Scientific Committee, throughout their voyage at the northern boundary of the Sahara during the week 12th-16th February 2014.
The purpose is not to teach but to transfer and get experience and thus improve relations within the Global Geoparks Network, as expressly required by Unesco.
The first joint project wants to promote, at the moment through announcements of the European Union, the social and human development, by investing in human resources both in the Apuan Alps and in the Tataouine region. The "geopark " is the model for the protection and promotion of the territory that the Office National des Mines of the Tunisian Ministry of Industry, identified as the most effective way to improve the livelihoods of marginalized people, vulnerable and dependent on the informal economy of this region. Our Park was asked to help in the development of on-site expertise, vocational education and training, creating opportunities for exchange and promotion for the certified and supported economic activities in the protected area of the Apuan Alps.
The project, worked with the NGO "Medina" in Borgo San Lorenzo (Florence), has the name of GEOSITES: acronym for "Glocalisation, Education, Organisation au Service Inclusif du Territoire pour l'Emploi Stable"...
Therefore, a good practice of international cooperation that enriches the Apuan Alps Geopark with an initial investment of only human resources, taking into account that the costs for the mission were fully supported by the Tunisian authorities and by the NGO Medina, partners of the project.









wednesday 12th february 2014

A long and tiring journey to the southern Tunisia of almost 900 km by car, more than the flight, for 18 hours in total.
The first image of the territory of Tataouine is a melting African sky at the sunset.



thursday 13th february 2014

The visit to the geological heritage of Tataouine begins from the Museum "Memoire de la Terre", which collects important fossils of the region.
The Italian delegation is composed by Antonio Bartelletti and Giuseppe Ottria from the Apuan Alps Geopark, as well as by Valentina Sorbi of the Medina NGO from Borgo San Lorenzo (Florence).



The museum contains the remnants of a large sauropod dinosaur, the Tataouinea hannibalis which lived in the Early Cretaceous, here recreated in a reduced size.



On the nearby hill it is easy to find the most common fossils of molluscs and echinoderms of the Late Jurassic period.



The landscape around Tataouine is typical of the rocky deserts (the hammada), with large limestone plateaus covering, with horizontal layers, the Sahara craton.




The man of the rocks (our geologist Giuseppe Ottria) near a layer more resistant to erosion.



The Director Bartelletti is sheltering from the sun under a curious rock shaped by wind.




The intermittent waterways, wadi, merge into a tectonic depression to the north-east of Tataouine. We are at the center of an endorheic basin, sabkha, where the wind deflation prevents its filling.



The modeling by wind and running waters produced these unusual “mammillary” landforms.




In the same tectonic depression, the edge of a normal fault emerges from a bed of sand rich in sodium chloride.


In the tectonic depression, temporary lakes or ponds can form, displaying a fair amount of water especially during winter.


The desert is not only rocks, stones and sand, but also unusual and ephemeral flowers...


The footprints on sand indicate the presence of sheep grazing on land of collective ownership.


From a hilltop, overlooking the lunar landscape of sabkha, where the strong salinity limits the development of vegetation.


The desert of Tataoine approaching the coast of Djerba is even more arid and rocky. On the background the Libyan border.


A souvenir photo to emphasize the friendship between the two shores of the Mediterranean.


An instinctive understanding establishes between man and dromedary in the sand dunes which progressively move, turning areas that once were cultivated into a desert.


The date palm cultivation on the gravel bed of a wadi, where the tree roots can more easily intercept the water.


The fully restored Ksur ("collective granary") Ouled Soltane ("of the Sultan’s sons").
This site was used as the set of the movie “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" (1999).



Kalâa (fortress) at Duoiret, overlooking the village partly converted into a “maison d’hotel”, respecting the traditional architecture.


The hotel, partly dug into the mountain, offers the opportunity to sleep in very characteristic cave rooms.
The small windows in the inner courtyard open your eyes on far landscapes.


Cave dwellings of Berber tradition along the sides of the fortified hill of Chénini village.



Inside the mountain of Chénini, a room for sleeping and working to the frame.


The white mosque of Chénini at the sunset, against the brown of the houses and of the rocks of the hill.



friday 14th february 2014

It is the day devoted to official meetings with representatives of institutional and economic stakeholders potentially interested in the project.
In the early morning, the presentation of the objectives to Mourad Achour, Governor of the Tataouine Region.



Following, the meeting with the economic reality of Tataouine at the Regional Association of industrial, commercial and artisanal companies (UTICA), in the presence of its President.


On the occasion, the director Antonio Bartelletti held in French a short lecture on the theme: "Le Géoparc des Alpes Apuanes: organisation et fonctionnement - interventions matérielles et activités immatérielles".



saturday 15th february 2014

The delegation moved to Tunis, at the Office National des Mines, in order to develop the guidelines for the project.



During a work break, the ONM officials showed their laboratories and the latest geological maps of Tunisia.



Also the Geological Museum of the ONM has been the object of a brief visit.




A beautiful specimen of palm tree fossil of Paleogene remembers, in the limestone, an immutable trait of the Tunisian landscape.



sunday 16th february 2014

The last meeting at the ONM was aimed to present the carried work to the Tunisian department heads.
The meeting, in the meeting room of the ONM, was attended by the General Director, Nouri Hatira, the Technical Central Director, Ali Abbes, the Head of the Service 'Geological Heritage”, Mohsen Hassine, and prof. Mohamed Ouaja from the Gabes University.



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