Setting the foundations for a Mediterranean Marinescape Observatory


The Marinescape Forum Piraeus, organized by the Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos (Med-INA) and CIVILSCAPE in Piraeus on the 26th and 27th May 2015, was brought to a successful conclusion. Gathering participants from various countries in Europe and the Mediterranean, a wide range of sectors and disciplines were represented: from institutional stakeholders, to academic and civil society representatives and from environmental scientists to cultural heritage managers, architects and planners, the diversity of voices present made for two very interesting days. An important conclusion was the recognition of the importance of establishing a Mediterranean Marinescape Observatory.

A view of Piraeus (Mikrolimano and Kastella area) where the Forum took place.  Credit stamos.abatis

A view of Piraeus (Mikrolimano and Kastella area) where the Forum took place. Credit stamos.abatis

The two days of the Forum saw an impressive array of speakers from a broad cross section of backgrounds and professional disciplines related to the marine and coastal environment, challenging the participants to expand their understanding of the functions and values of these unique areas. On the first day of the Forum, the organisers set the stage by stressing the need for transdisciplinary collaboration in order to protect and manage marinescapes according to the needs and desires of the affected communities.

The participants had the opportunity to hear about the European Landscape Convention which forms the basis of the Marinescape approach and concept, by its own Executive Secretary from the Council of Europe, Ms Maguelonne Déjeant-Pons as well as Dr Chris Dalglish, representing the Landscape Research Group and the director of CIVILSCAPE, Mr Dirk Gotzmann. All of them emphasized the fact that sustainable development as well as high quality landscapes can only be achieved through the harmonious relationship between social needs, the economy and the environment.

The first session Understanding Marinescapes included presentations that explained Mediterranean marinescapes from a historical perspective and presented current determining factors like coastal tourism, the impact of policies and the loss of traditional fishing practices. The second session focused on the governance and development of marinescapes with presentations dealing with practical examples and projects relating to planning maritime space and managing coastal zones as well as to the method of Landscape Character Assessment, which is currently being developed for the Mediterranean by the MedScapes project. The day ended with a lively plenary discussion where different views and opinions were exchanged between the participants.

Thymio Papayannis and Nejib Benessaiah chairing a session

Thymio Papayannis and Nejib Benessaiah chairing a session credit Stamos.Abatis

The second day of the Forum was spent on the Future prospects for Mediterranean marinescapes viewed through the prism of territorial management and planning with a presentation of the landscape strategy for the Galician coastal zone – a very promising regional initiative – as well as presentations by WWF Greece, the PERSEUS project and the Global Footprint Network on the status and future of the Mediterranean marine environment from an environmental perspective. Roundtable discussions took place during the afternoon of the second day where participants had the opportunity to discuss and finalise the Piraeus Statement, setting out the needs and the principles for sustainable management and planning of Mediterranean Marinescapes, coastal, wetland and island landscapes.

The idea of establishing a Mediterranean Marinescape Observatory achieved wide consensus and organisations interested in this civil society initiative were requested to show their commitment in order to form a core group of stakeholders who will strategically plan the next steps. Discussions were held on the objectives, nature and structure of the Observatory. It was agreed that its purpose will be to collect and exchange information, to raise awareness, and to offer a platform for public participation and training in landscape matters, relevant for local communities, non-governmental organisations and regional and national authorities. Despite the long road ahead for the establishment of the Observatory, the Marinescape Forum Piraeus set the foundation for mobilisation and action towards this important goal.


The participants of the conference credit Stamos.Abatis

The consensus for the Mediterranean Marinescape Observatory as well as a description and other important conclusions of the Forum were presented on the 28th May during the European Maritime Day in the morning session “Coastal Communities and Blue Society”. The Marinescape Forum was made possible with the support of the MAVA Foundation and the scientific contribution of the Landscape Research Group. It was also placed under the aegis of the Piraeus Municipality.

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Mr Alexis Katsaros