Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

Gafsa Oases




Site location:  Gafsa Oasis, Tunisia

Area of GIAHS: 700 ha

Population working for this system: 2500 permanently 5000 seasonally

Topological Characteristics: scarce fertile soil resources

Climatic Classification: dry climatic conditions

Ethnic Groups/Indigenous People: Berbers, Arabs

Primary Income Sources: agriculture with specifically date palms but other products depending on the demand


The Gafsa oasis is a green area situated in the dry lands of Tunisia. Growing plants has been made possible thanks to the ground water resources and the local communities’ knowledge. These landscapes have been shaped for centuries and have created the historical oasis.

The system of production is based on water management but also on a multi layered system of agriculture. Divided in three levels, cereals and vegetables are grown at the bottom. Then at the second level, fruit trees such as olive trees and apricot trees including conserved indigenous varieties are grown. At the top, there are date palms providing shadow to the lower levels.

Local communities have been living in the Gafsa oasis for centuries developing their own culture and adapted management of soil, water and agriculture. Nowadays the oasis is still an important source of income and agricultural production for people in the region. However, due to the higher dependency on the demand, the biodiversity and sustainability of the system are now threatened.