Increased human pressures have severely affected Mediterranean wetlands and climate in the past decades and continue to do so. Science tells us that we need large-scale nature restoration to reverse biodiversity decline and increase our resilience against floods, droughts, and other threats to our daily livelihoods. The European Commission’s proposal for the Nature Restoration Law can be a real game-changer for the Mediterranean region if implemented in a timely and well-considered manner.
The Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative (MedWet), Wetlands International Europe and BirdLife Europe, in collaboration with the European Topic Centre on Spatial Analysis and Synthesis – University of Malaga (ETC-UMA), Tour du Valat and WWF Spain, organised a lunch Seminar, as a closing event of the MAVA funded project “Communicating and advocating to reduce water abstraction and detrimental coastal development in Mediterranean coastal wetlands”.
During the seminar, the results of the project were presented, including a recent policy brief on Mediterranean wetlands submitted to the European Commission by the above-mentioned partner organisations of the Policy Task Force, coordinated by MedWet, in the framework of a public consultation on the EU Nature Restoration Law.
Marianne Courouble, Policy Officer at MedWet, kicked off the seminar by stating the importance of coastal wetlands and presenting the “Wetlands-based Solutions” project as a collective effort to conserve and restore Mediterranean coastal wetlands for nature and people.
Some of the main project outcomes, resources and tools were presented:
- Sofie Ruysschaert (Nature restoration policy officer, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia) and Szabolcs Nagy (Biodiversity Manager, Wetlands International Europe), presented the Policy brief on “Mediterranean wetlands in the EU Nature Restoration Law”, which was also presented in the afternoon to the EC DG ENVI Biodiversity and Nature Units. They shared the overview of the proposal and some proposed actions in order to make it work better.
- Marco Trombetti (Environmental Researcher and GIS Expert, ETC-UMA), presented “A Mediterranean wide wetland ecosystem map – a regional baseline for informed decisions”. He explained how a biodiversity assessment based on IUCN Red List data was developed as a tool for decision-makers to identify conservation priorities, knowledge gaps, and cross-boundary opportunities.
- Anis Guelmami (Project Leader/GIS, Remote Sensing and Mapping, Tour du Valat), presented “Large scale mapping of potential areas for wetlands restoration” and showed the developed large scale map that is representing areas for potential wetlands restoration action, together with cost efforts evaluation.
- Carlota Viada (Biologist, WWF Spain), presented “Strengthening the restoration of Mediterranean Wetlands for nature and people”. She shared the main deliverables of 3 years of work under the Wetland-based Solutions project, which include: a survey of potential to be restored, criteria to identify restoration priorities, the “MedWetland Watchers” app to identify wetlands that need to be restored, factsheets of successful restoration activities, and several others.
- Vanessa Sánchez Ortega, a Project Coordinator for Fundación Global Nature, gave a presentation on “Mediterranean wetlands management and restoration as carbon sinks”, as part of the LIFE Wetlands4Climate project. She presented the scope of the project, process and results, including the importance of considering Mediterranean wetlands for carbon sequestration.
Marianne Courouble closed the seminar by focusing on the next steps, such as putting wetlands and NbS higher on the political agendas of the EU and its member states, supporting the exchange of good practices, lessons learnt, and knowledge as well as increasing the surface area of wetlands to be restored.
The same day, the Policy Task Force met with the Biodiversity and Nature Unit of the European Commission’s DG Environment to discuss the finalisation of the Nature Restoration law and its implementation on the ground.
The presentations shared during the seminar, as well as the final version of the Nature Restoration Law Mediterranean wetlands position paper:
- MedWet Seminar Welcoming_M. Courouble
- MedWet Seminar Ecosystem map_M. Trombetti
- MedWet Seminar Large scale mapping_A. Guelmami
- MedWet Seminar Mgt and rest carbon sinks_V. Sanchez Ortega
- MedWet Seminar NRL and Mediterranean wetlands_S. Ruysschaert_S. Nagy
- MedWet Seminar Strengthening restoration CViada
- Med NGO and research centres analysis NRL wetlands-Final
Marianne Courouble, Policy Officer, MedWet