Workshop on the MedWet Inventory Tools: Consolidating the important and long standing work done on a Mediterranean wetland inventory system

MedWet has played a major role regarding the definition of wetland inventory and monitoring in the last two decades, through a series of projects implemented by the members and partners.. The first project, so-called Life MedWet (1992-96), was funded by the European Commission and among its objectives it was aiming to setting up wetland inventories and monitoring tools with input by Wetlands International together with the Portuguese agency Instituto de Conservação da Natureza (ICN). The tools were based on the most up-to-date information from other countries, eg. USA, Australia, and consisted in a set of methodologies for carrying out wetland inventories at local, national or regional levels, on cartography conventions and a database for storing wetland data.

The manuals published at the end of the Life MedWet1 project were presented in an international conference held in Venice (1996) and were a remarkable success, as they were disseminated among many countries and continents and were baseline documents used in many countries, such as Iran, Vietnam, Colombia, South Africa, in addition to some Mediterranean countries or regions. After this success MedWet was launched as a political cooperation initiative working under the Ramsar Convention and a large debate has been taking place since then in order to maximize the use of the MedWet inventory tools.

Some projects followed and aimed to use the MedWet Inventory System tools: MedWet 2 (1996-98), MedWet Coast (2000-06), Interreg SUDOE project (2003-05) and Interreg CODDE project (2005-08). A working group was established – MedWet Inventory Working Group – with the objective to update the tools and to disseminate them as a tool for achieving a pan-Mediterranean wetland inventory for the first time ever. The CODDE project ended with the creation of a web based database which is at the moment being used by 17 of the 27 regions of Italy for inventorying 1511 (1266 in the database) sites with the help of Agenzia Regionale per la Protezione Ambientale della Toscana (ARPAT) and the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA).

The MedWet Secretariat organized a workshop at the Greek Biotope Center (EKBY), in Thessaloniki on the 8th of December, gathering many of the figures of the ex-MedWet Inventory Working Group. The aim was to discuss the results of the research undertaken by Luis Costa during the last few months on the Inventory tools and to decide on their future. Guided by the report and in a positive atmosphere, the participants discussed the successes and failures of the past, as well as the strategy to be followed from now on. Overall, the quality of the tools is still considered high and relevant but the objective of the new approach is no longer a Pan-Mediterranean Inventory but simply the widest possible dissemination of the tools in order to inspire and assist countries to inventory their wetlands.

The MedWet Secretariat with the help of the workshop participants is now working on implementing the decisions of the workshop and will keep you informed of its progress. Inventorying still remains vital to the conservation of wetlands and to that end a lot of work remains to be done.