The work done by MedWet focuses on nine major areas.
1. Inventorying and monitoring of wetlands
One of MedWet’s most important missions is to gather complete, accurate and uniform information about the state of Mediterranean wetlands. The information gathered concerns the geographic location of wetlands, the types of ecosystems they involve, as well as the condition they are in. This collection of data is done to provide governments, scientists and wetland managers with high quality information which will assist them in evaluating the overall state of wetlands, to improve their environmental condition and to manage them in a sustainable way. Presently, over 8,000 sites across 9 Mediterranean countries have been classified using the MedWet inventory methods. Two of the projects undertaken by MedWet on this area of work are the SUDDOE project and the CODDE project.
2. Wetland management
Wetland management plays an important role in the effort to protect and improve wetlands. It entails the consideration of all social, cultural, economic and ecological aspects of wetlands in order to achieve the best overall allocation of wetland resources between wetland users. Proper management is a process that goes beyond the boundaries of the wetland itself and involves planning of land and water use at the watershed level. An essential part of management is to ensure that adequate water of the right quality is allocated to the wetland at the right time to create the soil, micro-organisms, animal and plant communities that wetlands are made up of. Many of MedWet’s projects have focused on this theme such as the North African Wetllands Network project which took place in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.
3. Capacity building
MedWet actively seeks to help Mediterranean countries to build their capacity to achieve sustainable management and wise use of wetlands. In order to strengthen local capacities, providing an adequate knowledge base is essential. MedWet promotes opportunities for training on wetland management, as an important way of building skills and expertise needed to protect wetlands. Moreover, through the creation of sub-regional networks of experts and administrators at the national and local levels, MedWet fosters networking for sharing of knowledge on wetlands. Most MedWet projects involve elements of capacity building and training; the most recent ones being the TwinMed project which took place in Lebanon and Jordan and Dialogue on Water in the Middle East and North African Region.
4. Socioeconomic analysis of wetlands
The “wise use” of wetland resources takes into consideration not only the biological function of wetlands but also their social and economic aspects. Identifying economic uses of wetlands, analyzing the impact of these activities on the ecological functions of wetlands, quantifying wetland services not directly related to market transactions, (such as aquifer recharge) are all important for the conservation and the wise use of wetlands through sound integrated management plans. Sustainable use of wetland resources can only be achieved if all these aspects are reconciled and treated holistically. Mr Nejib Benessaiah has written a book on the MedWet2 project which integrated socio economic variables in wetland inventorying.
5. Integrated water resource management for agriculture and nature
MedWet being a Mediterranean organization, it deals with countries where water scarcity is a constant problem. MedWet tries to address the issue of integrated water resource management for food and ecosystems through stakeholder engagement. This is done by establishing national and river basin level dialogues among those representing national administrations, agricultural producers and the environmental community. To achieve this goal MedWet works together with a number of primary international organizations in the water field like MENBO and GWP-Med in the frame of the “Global Dialogue on Water, Food and Environment” programme. One of the most recent MedWet projects that have dealt with Integrated water resource management is the Dialogue on Water in the Middle East and North African Region.
6. Cultural Values of Wetlands
The Mediterranean basin has a long history of human use and thus wetlands sites often have cultural components like physical ruins, monuments or particular traditions on fishing, building etc. Combining natural and cultural management can provide benefits to conservation, empower local communities and give eco-tourism opportunities in the area. MedWet was active in this area in the past and will soon be launching the MedWet Culture Network. The MedWet Steering Group –at its meeting in Athens on 13-14 January 2009– has approved the establishment of a MedWet Culture Network (MW/CN) for the period 2009-2012. We are currently in the process of building such a netwrok which will enable diferent mediterranean actors to exchange practices and information.
7. Wetlands and climate change mitigation
Climate change and its consequences are in the forefront of environmental discussions all over the world. Wetlands will be largely affected by changes in rainfall patterns, droughts and other phenomena. However, sustainable wetland use can mitigate climate change repercussions like floods and soil erosion. MedWet has made climate change its priority and is now busy setting up projects which will aim to conserve wetlands and inform and train local communities on these matters.
8. Public Awareness
Through its outreach program MedWet seeks to motivate people to act for the wise use of wetlands. By promoting public awareness of wetland values as part of the projects it carries out, MedWet contributes to generating recognition of the benefits that wetlands provide. The MedWet Communications, Education and Public Awareness Strategy (CEPA Strategy) sets out in detail the ways in which MedWet works to build awareness on the value of wetland heritage.
9. Disseminating research results
MedWet publishes a variety of books, CD-ROMs and other materials to ensure that knowledge gained through projects is made available to all audiences interested in wetland protection. The publications section on this website offers a number of our materials on-line.