The Governance of Coastal Wetlands in the Mediterranean: A Handbook

We are happy to announce that the publication “the Governance of Coastal Wetlands in the Mediterranean – a Handbook”, by B. Shipman and Ž. Rajković, has recently been published.

Despite their benefits for nature and human beings, Mediterranean wetlands, especially those on the coasts, are among the most fragile and threatened ecosystems and are declining at an alarming rate. It is urgent therefore to promote actions to achieve the preservation of the coastal and island wetlands of high ecological values. This should create an enabling environment for sustainable conditions and uses of these ecosystems, through the mechanisms of good, effective and equitable governance.



This Handbook is designed as a practical guide for the governance of coastal wetlands around the Mediterranean, whether they are formally protected as Ramsar Sites, those designated under national or local legislation, or those lacking any formal protection. It takes into account the principles and practice of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM), Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), and the tools offered by the two relevant conventions: the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the Barcelona Convention (UNEP/MAP).



The Handbook has been developed as part of the overarching initiative of the MAVA Foundation ‘Coastal Wetland Action Plan’. Its preparation was initiated by the Priority Actions Programme Regional Activity Centre (PAP/RAC), coordinated and published under its leadership. It was supported by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the MAVA Foundation for Nature.

A valuable contribution to the content of the Handbook was made by the Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative (MedWet), the IUCN Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (IUCN ECARO)the Global Water Partnership-Mediterranean (GWP-Med) and the Network of Marine Protected Areas Managers in the Mediterranean (MedPan).

Valuable insights and reflections for the preparation of this Handbook were also provided by the following Mediterranean wetlands:

  • Oristano Gulf (Maristanis project), on the western Sardinian coast, Italy;
  • Ghar el Melh Lagoon, 30 km southeast of the town of Bizerte in Tunisia;
  • Lower Delta of the Bojana-Buna River, with pilots in Ulcinj Salina, Montenegro;
  • The Buna River-Velipoje Protected Landscape, Albania, as well as
  • The Transboundary ‘Prespa Park’, a protected area including the Prespa Lakes and their surroundings extending over the boundaries of Greece, Albania, and the Republic of North Macedonia.

Download the Handbook in English (PDF).

In the following video, Brian Shipman, one of the authors, is giving an overview of the Handbook:

The Handbook also contains linked, easy to use, on-line planning tools to help design efficient governance models. Download the Self-Assessment and Planning Tool in xlsx.

Watch the introduction to the Self-Assessment and Planning Tool by Brian Shipman:


The handbook (in pdf) and the the Self-Assessment and Planning Tool in (xlsx) are also available in different languages:

Albanian: Handbook    |   Self-Assessment and Planning Tool
Arabic: Handbook    |   Self-Assessment and Planning Tool
Croatian: Handbook    |  Self-Assessment and Planning Tool
French: Handbook    |   Self-Assessment and Planning Tool
Greek: Handbook   |   Self-Assessment and Planning Tool
Italian: Handbook   |   Self-Assessment and Planning Tool
Slovenian: Handbook   |   Self-Assessment and Planning Tool
Spanish: Handbook    |   Self-Assessment and Planning Tool

Lessons learned:


The Lessons Learned of the Mediterranean Coastal Wetlands Governance project is an on-going component of the MAVA Foundation’s ‘Coastal Wetlands Action Plan’ to establish or improve governance of coastal wetlands based on the experience from the pilot sites. Intended for project team members and interested stakeholders, the Lessons Learned aims to assist coastal wetland sites to improve their governance frameworks, and provide some ideas to be shared with other Mediterranean coastal wetlands, via the tips and best practice case studies provided.


The Document of Lessons Learned of the Mediterranean Coastal Wetlands Governance project is available HERE.
Oristano in Italy, Buna River Velipojë Protected Landscape in Albania, and Ghar El Melh in Tunisia are three best practice wetland sites that have provided valuable insights and lessons on Coastal Wetland Governance.

Download the Lessons Learned Postcards of the pilot sites of:


Nice infographics were also made to promoting the handbook on social media. They can be downloaded via the following links:

For more information about the handbook, please contact Marko Prem, Deputy Director of PAP/RAC, at

In case of technical issues with the Self-Assessment and Planning Tool, please contact Brian Shipman at