Monitoring and assessment indicators were developed and adopted by the MWO, with the updating of the results and the monitoring process. This included increased efforts devoted to mapping indicators through the analysis of satellite images for monitoring land use, in particular with the GlobWetlands II Project of the European Space Agency (ESA) on the southern shores of the Mediterranean, the MEDDE 2014-2015 Project in the Ramsar Sites in France, and the RhoMeO Project in the Rhône-Mediterranean watershed (France).
For the monitoring of biodiversity, the MWO has continued its efforts of declination of the Indices Living Mediterranean Wetlands (an adaptation of the Living Planet Index). This declension was oriented towards:
- a local variation of the indices (in Provence, France, and in eight regions of the CEPF project in North Africa);
- better adaptation to Mediterranean Wetlands including taking account of the functional traits of species;
- the evaluation of the respective impacts of climate change and land use; and
- an assessment of the effects of the protection and sustainable management policies (including Ramsar Sites designation). A Camargue-focused analysis assessed the impact of changes in land use that have come and gone since 1800 on the birds of this major wetland.
In collaboration with various partners, the MWO has also launched a research and development programme to establish indicators for water quality and quantity. Three lanes have been pursued:
- the compilation and synthesis of existing data on water in the MedWet countries;
- a feasibility study of development for these countries’ indicators of the Water Footprint Network to assess how much water is consumed and polluted to different spatial scales from the watershed to the countries and the Mediterranean region; and
- the assessment of the degree of flooding of wetlands using remote sensing.
Concerning the development of wetland ecosystem service monitoring, no relevant indicator exists for the moment. Works have been directed towards the development of evaluation methods (H2020 Ecopotential ongoing project) and case study analysis. The work involved a comparative analysis between sites (the Hula – Camargue project) and evaluation of ecosystem services in four wetlands, particularly in conjunction with climate change (in partnership with the Plan Bleu –UNEP/MAP).
On the other hand, a cultural services indicator is under development, relying on surveys done by visitors of sites in wetlands in France, Algeria, and Morocco.
There has been a consolidation and updates of databases on Mediterranean wetlands, in particular on the biodiversity of habitats. Those databases allow realizing measure of MWO indicators.
There have been analyses of monitoring results for publication, promotion and dissemination (decision-makers, scientists). Increasing importance has been given to the validation of indicators by scientific publications.
There has been a focus on building the capacities of local stakeholders, through support for civil society in the Maghreb (“MedWet Civil Society Network in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia” project) and specialist training (France, Tunisia, Algeria), concerning 18 NGOs in the three countries.
Support has been provided for initiatives in various countries: national wetlands strategies (Algeria, Morocco), setting up observatories and indicators (Algeria, France, Tunisia), and specific studies (indicators, mapping, etc.).
In close collaboration with MedWet, the monitoring results and analyses have been transferred through various communications, as well as participation in national, regional and international events. This transfer was also achieved via MWO/MedWet’s e-newsletter (until mid-2013), and through the MWO website (2012-2014). Now, in 2015, the information on the MWO website being progressively transferred to the MedWet and the Tour du Valat websites.
The MWO course of action for 2016-2020
1. Ecosystem services in Mediterranean wetlands
The objectives are:
- to produce knowledge and accurate indicators at the Mediterranean scale on the importance of wetlands for society; and
- to use this knowledge and these indicators to advocate for the sustainable management of wetlands. The MWO methodological choice is to work only on the biophysical evaluation of services.
The work planned for 2016-2017 includes several projects centered mainly on exploring the links between wetland biodiversity and the production of ecological services, as follows:
- the analysis in four sites of the role of wetlands in adapting to climate change in the Mediterranean region, a project piloted by the Blue Plan (2016-2017);
- the search for potential links between biodiversity status and the emergence of the West Nile Virus in the Mediterranean region; (2016-2017);
- the contribution to a publication on the results of the initial qualitative assessment of ecological services in the Mediterranean basin. This project is part of the Mediterranean Ecosystem Services Working Group of the Ecosystem Service Partnership headed by Ilse Geijzendorffer (IMBE, Marseille University) and Emmanuelle Cohen-Shacham (IUCN) (2016-2017);
- defining trend indicators for services linked to hunting and tourism based on waterbird data (project funded by Fondation Total) (2016-2017); and
- further testing, at a pan-Mediterranean scale, an indicator for cultural services provided by Mediterranean wetlands based on the number of visitors to nine sites studied during previous years. A briefing note for decision-makers and natural area managers will be published (2016-2017).
The participation in the working groups on ecosystem services will be continued and communication actions will be carried out when opportunities arise (2016-2017).
2. Monitoring biodiversity in Mediterranean wetlands
This project has three objectives:
- to undertake a more precise assessment of biodiversity status and trends thanks to the update of the Living Mediterranean Wetlands Index and the development of a new index addressing more closely threatened species;
- to assess threats and the effectiveness of conservation measures for waterbirds; and
- to produce and transfer syntheses and information that are useful to decision-makers. There is an urgent need for the MWO to communicate its key messages in the form of indicators and recommendations that are more in line with the expectations of decision-makers and/or international conventions. The MWO communication will be based on validated scientific results, in particular through publications in highly ranked international journals. In addition to these publications, short-format communication methods will be prioritised ( g., brochures, indicator files, web pages, articles in the press).
The work planned for 2016-2017 includes:
- updating the database on biodiversity in Mediterranean wetlands and updating the Living Mediterranean Wetlands Index;
- developing the Red List Index for the Mediterranean region in order to broaden the analysis to other groups than vertebrates and to address threatened species more closely;
- studying the relationships between demographic trends in waterbirds and the trends of natural and artificial wetlands, climate change, the designation of protected areas, and hunting pressure. This will be done through a doctoral thesis in partnership with the French National Museum of Natural History;
- producing scientific papers for validating the results;
- making recommendations for the better conservation and management of the biodiversity of Mediterranean wetlands partly based on those results; and
- producing documents targeting different publics, including decision-makers.
Water is an essential resource for wetlands and for human societies. Information on water and wetlands will be summarised as part of the analysis of ecosystem services and biodiversity.
The objective of this project is to set up water monitoring programmes based on a few components, which: a) are compatible with the globally-coordinated systems such as UN Water and the World Water Council, or currently taking shape (Ramsar, CBD); and b) also allow explanatory analyses carried out in combination with the MWO data on biodiversity and ecosystems services.
Several approaches will be tried out, including: a) gathering available information on water resources; b) developing remote sensing indicators on water resources; and c) developing Water Footprint Indicators in the Mediterranean region.
The work planned for 2016-2017 includes:
- analyzing the evolution of the “wetland flooding extent” using satellite images, based upon the results of the project GlobWetland2;
- feeding into the “water” aspect of the Mediterranean Wetlands Observatory’s spatial database (cf. “transfer of results”) ;
- setting up a project on the Water Footprint Indicators in partnership with the Water Footprint Network, MedWet, EMWIS, etc.;
- keeping up with and contributing to the development of indicators for water monitoring by Ramsar, the CBD, the SDGs, etc.;
- within the framework of the SWOS externally-funded H2020 project, selecting, testing and monitoring the water-related indicators. and
- mapping and quantifying the surface area flooded in 2015 in the Mediterranean coastal region using satellite images and testing some parameters of water quality in a few large waterbodies.
4. Local and national wetland observatories
The objective of the project is to help local/national wetland observatories to reach their specific targets with information on the status and trends in “their” wetlands, so as to facilitate beneficial changes in attitude in the Mediterranean Basin.
More specifically, the project should help with the setting up of such wetland observatories (or observatories with a “wetlands” component), which are as compatible with / similar to the MWO as possible: consistent framework; clarification of objectives; indicators identical to those of the MWO, etc.
The work planned for 2016-2017 includes:
- providing technical assistance to existing National Wetlands Observatories (NWO), including development and calculation of indicators, publication of thematic reports and of a new series of NWO Further, partnership requests from other parts of the Mediterranean region will be assessed and, where possible, joint work will be undertaken; and
- implementing a training programme for the network of NGOs under the MAVA-funded project “Maghreb Wetlands Sentinels” on applying and analysing a monitoring protocol for a small set of indicators. The data gathered by the NGOs will be compiled, analysed and presented to the national and international bodies concerned (MedWet, Ramsar National Focal Points, etc.).
5. Wetlands within the framework of sustainable development in the Mediterranean.
The objectives of the project are;
- to identify indicators for the Mediterranean countries and sub-regions on the causes of pressure on wetlands and on responses; and
- to calculate and update these indicators in order to allow correlation with the indicators developed by the MWO.
The work planned for 2016-2017 includes:
- verifying and updating the list of macro-indicators potentially relevant within the DPSIR framework (Driving forces, Pressures, States, Impacts, Responses) and checking their coherence and complementarity with the other MWO indicators. Those of the new SDG indicators that are relevant to the monitoring of wetlands will also be incorporated, in coordination with the MedWet Framework for Action;
- gathering and compiling existing data on these indicators for Mediterranean countries, and initiating the development of a database;
- devising a forward-looking analysis framework, based on trends, alternative or abrupt-change scenario methods. A review will be carried out of the wetlands and policy issues of each country, the development models selected, and the available macro-economic indicators. The aim of the analysis will be to correlate this information with wetland status indicators;
- seeking partnerships with institutions such as the Plan Bleu, the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute, the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), and the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI);
- responding to requests from the teams working in the other research areas for correlations with biodiversity, water, and ecosystem services indicators; and
- organizing a workshop with our partners to present and discuss the analytical framework and the set of indicators.
6. On-going funded projects
The MWO will also participate in other externally funded projects being implemented by TdV.
Satellite imagery monitoring projects: the Satellite-based Wetland Observation Service (SWOS, Horizon 2020) and the Ramsar France wetland mapping project (Ministry of Ecology).
The objectives of the SWOS project are:
- to develop a standard, operational tool for monitoring wetland ecosystems to better promote their inclusion in decision-making processes linked to their protection, conservation, and restoration;
- to set up a single point for accessing information in order to guarantee better access and inter-operability between geo-spatial databases linked to wetlands;
- to develop new possibilities for using SENTINEL images to guarantee continuous monitoring of wetland ecosystems with already existing sources of data (Landsat, MERIS, MODIS, etc.);
- to develop technological tools for monitoring wetland ecosystems and make them available to the different communities of users; and
- to develop technological tools in close collaboration with the users in order to guarantee that those tools effectively respond to their needs.
- The work planned for 2016-2017 includes to:
- to finalise the study for all pilot sites in order to test the SWOS approaches and develop the software;
- to finalise the user needs analysis (after questionnaires having been returned), and write the report that will be used as the basis for the methodological development and for defining the technical specifications;
- to organise a first international workshop (2016) to present the initial versions of the tools developed and run a first training session for the users;
- to define and calculate the SWOS indicators that will be derived from the maps produced (based on user recommendations and technical specifications). This work will be coordinated by the TdV (a workshop with all SWOS partners will be organized in 2016);
- to finalise the study for all remaining sites using the methodology developed according to users’ requirements;
- to organise a second international workshop in 2017 with the users community and present the results for all test sites (and organise a second training session for the users);
- to participate in other international events (e.g., the ESA’s Living Planet Symposium in May, 2016); and
- to develop a SWOS web portal to disseminate results and promote the tools that will be developed.
The ECOPOTENTIAL ecosystem services project (H2020). The objective of the project is to make significant progress in terms of the utilization of earth observation data combined with field data, so as to create a unified framework for the study of ecosystems and the management of ecological services in protected areas.
The project focuses on 22 internationally recognized protected areas found in different biogeographic zones. Modelling tools will be used in each protected area (retrospectively and with forward-looking scenarios) in order to integrate the results at the European level. In the framework of the project (included in the MWO project on “Ecosystem Services”), the objectives are to participate in the work on ecosystem services and to ensure that capacity building and knowledge exchange activities relating to this project are conducted.
The work planned for 2016-2017 includes:
- participation in the coordination of the project (four meetings of the coordination team per year and an Annual General Meeting per year);
- coordination of a sub-project (Work-Package 12, WP12 (summer schools, production of a communication and project dissemination plan), in close relation with other work-packages;
- involvement of the MWO in a citizen science sub-project (WP12). The MWO will try to determine the target group and begin developing the programme and the practical tools needed to implement it; and
- involvement in the assessment of ecosystem services in protected areas.